Review: Bonsai Empire Advanced Bonsai Course 2

In short, they keep getting better.

These joint courses from Bonsai Empire and Bjorn Bjorholm really shine as a resource for the self-taught student, and yet are helpful even for those with access to a physically present teacher.

Here’s a snapshot with some quick commentary:

  • If you like long detailed wiring and styling sessions and great close up photography, this course is for you
  • 2/3 of the case studies are about conifers, such as styling a collected juniper, detailed shoot positioning on Japanese white pine, and front choice and styling a ponderosa
  • 1/3 of the case studies are on broadleaf plants, including setting a nebari on a young ‘Shishigashira’ Japanese Maple.
  • Nice fertilizing segment which will appeal to the science-minded (there’s even a chance to flaunt your math skills—which was one of the few criticisms I felt inclined to offer, until I realized it was my lack of math skills that gave me this reaction in the first place).
  • Great intro on display and its elements with many examples, including the three main display choices: Shin, Gyou, Sou.
  • Refers back to earlier courses to see how the trees dealt with then are doing now, and what’s next for them—I thought this was a particularly strong feature

Advanced Course 2 is clear and conversational. It is also one of the longest of the series at 6 hours—fully 28 minutes longer than the epic 1927 silent film Napoleon—so definitely stock up on popcorn/butter/nutritional yeast. It is less scripted than earlier courses, with Bjorn showing his generous and easy going teacherly chops. Not shy of humility, in one scene he shares an embarrassing moment that many bonsai artists would deny ever happened.

On the whole I thought this was another substantiative installment in the growing course constellation at Bonsai Empire, with improvements in ease of presentation, linking with past courses in novel ways, and certainly a deeper level of information. For the quality of the product and the sheer number of hours offered this is a deal. And it offers an excellent alibi for the necessity of popcorn.

Bravo gents!

For more on the course: Advanced Bonsai Course 2

Note: There are two free previews in the menu…

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