I´ve always been fascinated with old trees that have been shaped with the passing of time and the harshness of their natural environment. The fact that the shapes of old tress can be mimicked with small trees planted in pots is equally fascinating to me.
When I was around 10 years old I remember seeing an old man selling small trees in pots displaying them on his car´s roof with a sign reading “Bonsai en venta” (Bonsai for sale) in my home town of Toluca, Mexico. Then I thought they were fake bonsais because to my understanding at that age, bonsais were so unique perhaps magical Japanese specimens that no real bonsai could be sold on the street on the top of a car´s roof. Some people would remember the first Karate Kid movie and would know what I mean “trim here, tie there”.

At the age of twenty I commuted almost every weekend for about five years from the city of Queretaro where I studied and then worked to my home town Toluca (a 200 km drive along the Panamericana Highway in central Mexico). Between the towns of Acambay and Dongu used to be a tree next to the road which I really liked and always was looking forward to drive by. Sometimes it was in full sun and sometimes at dusk displaying it´s magnificent silhouette. Unfortunately I lost the many negatives of the photos I made of this tree.

My first Bonsai acquisition was through a handler in Mexico city at the age of 25 in 2005, an informal upright style juniper, according to the bonsai book that I was reading at that time. I could handle to keep this juniper alive until for professional reasons I was relocated in Australia from 2007 to 2009 and then to the US until 2011. Sadly the tree died shortly after I left to Australia since the person to whom I gave the tree didn´t put too much care into it.

During my time working overseas I didn´t acquire any new bonsais since I knew that my stay overseas was temporary. Nevertheless my fascination with old trees continued to grow.

I also grew very fond of the elements of the Japanese arts and their aesthetics because of their beauty and simplicity (according to my eyes and taste). A very recommendable read relating to Japanese aesthetics and its differences with the western world´s aesthetics is the essay from Junichiro Tanizaki “In praise of shadows”.

Luckily during my time in Melbourne, Australia I met my now girlfriend and partner with whom I travel to Japan in 2009. We saw firsthand the beautiful gardens with their ponds and nice looking trees, the inner courtyards of the Japanese houses with their quietness inviting to meditate. Needless to say, my interest on Bonsai grew bigger during this trip. They have a special capacity to calm and sooth me when I contemplate one.

In 2011, because of Love reasons, I permanently moved to the south of Germany. Here I bought more Bonsai books , I was acquainted with the German online bonsai shops and their products, visited various nurseries, watched YouTube Bonsai videos, red some blog posts and stumbled with Walter Pall´s articles, which were very enlightening to me on this topic.

I then invested on my first bonsai material with good potential, a zuisho pine, a shimpaku juniper, a crabapple, a larch and most recently two Mugo pines bought at Minoru Bonsai during a workshop held by Walter Pall. With the trees came the tools, the wire and the pots! Oh boy, this hobby is expensive and time consuming, says my girlfriend.

Now I am settled in Freiburg, Germany where I have a wonderful family, two very sweet daughters and of course my lovely partner. I commute every day to work in the town of Eisenbach, high on the Black Forest, although this is a 50 km drive I really enjoy the forest scenery. Next to the road, by the town of Waldau, raises a magnificent tree, an ancient 850 year old Oak! This has become my favorite tree not just because of its natural beauty but because of the literal meaning of this species name. Oak translates to Eiche in German and to Roble in Spanish; Robles is my second surname. Did I mention that I have a very long name? René Roberto Becerril Robles! Very fitting I think.

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Oak in Winter Silhouette by Waldau

So this is me, a Mexican living in Germany with a wide range of interests that will be submitting some blog entries related to Bonsai and other things hopeful to get some feedback from you. In the end, whether my little trees end up being good Bonsais or not, what matters to me is the enjoyment I take while contemplating and working on this small trees in pots.

René

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