Once or twice a year, my Yaupon holly gets a haircut. I cut back to the silhouette, remove branches that are growing up down and thin branches in crowded areas. The work is fun and the result is pleasing.
Yaupon holly – before cutback
Depending on the weather, I can expect a new flush of growth ahead of winter. Were I preparing the tree for exhibit, I’d cut back a little earlier to make sure new shoots enough time to fill the silhouette in warm or cold weather.
How, one might ask, does Jim Gremel produce so many great trees, all while maintaining a busy teaching schedule? The answer:
Valentín Cruz, aka “Bali”
Bali, as he is commonly known, loves bonsai. He first came to Deer Meadow Bonsai in 2007 and has been a fixture at the establishment for the past two and a half years. He’s a testament to Gremel’s abilities as a teacher, and a demonstrated practitioner in his own right. Be sure to say hi when you visit.
Jim Gremel and Bali
Also be sure to explore the garden. As you wander past the workshop, you’ll find rows and rows of future bonsai.
Many trees are container grown. Gremel is deservedly well-known for developing shohin and small shimpaku from cutting.
Walk past the benches and you’ll see the growing fields.
In a sea of pines
What do these trees look like below?
Japanese black pine trunk
Turn around and you’ll see a row of atlas cedars.
Once trees have developed trunks in the ground, Gremel refines them in containers.
Japanese black pine
Cork and live oak
Keep walking past the benches and the neatly planted rows and you’ll hit a wall of future bonsai.
So what are you waiting for – head out and visit! Deer Meadow Bonsai is open by appointment only so be sure to call first. And if you enjoy baked goods, make a side trip to Wild Flour Bread Bakery in nearby Freestone when you’re in the neighborhood.
If you get the chance to visit Deer Meadow Bonsai, go.
Deer Meadow Bonsai
Deer Meadow Bonsai is located an hour and a half north of San Francisco, just outside the charming town of Occidental (try Howard’s Cafe when you visit). From Occidental, wind your way through redwoods for 10 minutes and you’re there.
What is Deer Meadow Bonsai? A unique bonsai nursery in a beautiful setting. A brief history: in 1995 Jim Gremel moved his bonsai from a small Berkeley backyard to five acres near Occidental – thus Deer Meadow Bonsai was born. Gremel is well-known for his styling – he won the top award at the 1st National Bonsai Exhibit – for his teaching, his good humor, for creating bonsai from scratch, and for selling some of the best available copper wire used for bonsai.
Whence the copper wire? Gremel is also a fine arts potter – annealing copper wire yields useful material for glazes.
Today Gremel’s focus is bonsai.
Cedar from above
Pine and cedars
In recent years, Deer Meadow Bonsai has featured more and more collected material.
Admiring a large sierra juniper
Improvised pot with chicken wire
Healthy shoots – juvenile foliage in the process of turning mature
My recent visit was on the occasion of Gremel’s annual open house, an event scheduled to coincide with REBS’ annual exhibit. After enjoying the exhibit, I headed west to Deer Meadow Bonsai along with other exhibit goers.
Dan Robinson investigating a Colorado spruce
The event was appreciated by all, and as on every visit to Deer Meadow, I saw trees I hadn’t seen before.
Shimpaku – Tanuki
Next up – bonsai development at Deer Meadow.
For those of you who weren’t able to visit REBS’ recent show, here’s a peak at some familiar trees from different angles.
Under the canopy of a white pine
White pine grafted on black pine
In addition to presenting great bonsai, the REBS show features a large vendor area, within which one can find a great variety of trees and supplies.
For the astute – or local – among you, you’ll recognize the vendor whose work and wares are featured here. And if not, a final clue:
Next up, a visit to his garden: Deer Meadow Bonsai.