“I’m no longer quite sure what the question is, but I do know that the answer is Yes” 

Leonard Bernstein

In the Seasonals you will acquire the confidence to use traditional techniques in your own way, as a launchpad for personal expression. The in-person, 3-day, multi-year program is based on learning by contrast. We contrast pot-grown and wild-collected, deciduous and conifer, young tree and old, from season to season.

Seasonal students work on a “teaching collection” that I’ve developed over many years, to offer what I had in Japan as an apprentice. The benefit of studying on highly developed teacher’s trees is it’s easier to see the path forward. And, studying in-person is the best way to embed virtual education—from online courses and books—which assume some skill. It’s worthwhile stuff, but we need to how to apply that information.

You may ask, why travel to study bonsai? The answer is that when the teacher travels, much less is learned than when the student travels. If a surgeon were to teach surgery in your kitchen, you wouldn’t learn as much as if you studied in a surgery room. The Seasonals offer absorption in an information-rich environment, which is how the apprentice studies.

Seasonal workshops are perhaps a more distilled, palatable, and fun version of the long-term and stressed-out education I received as an apprentice from Kokufu and Prime Minister award-winning master Shinji Suzuki.

Many years of memories

In past Seasonals, we’ve covered established bonsai refinement with Ponderosa, Black, Red, White, Limber, and Scots Pines, Engelmann and Ezo Spruce, Japanese, Trident, and Vine Maples, Mountain and Western Hemlock, Rocky Mountain, Western, and Shimpaku Junipers, Stewartia, Winter Hazel, Satsuki Azalea, and ‘Chojubai’ Dwarf Flowering Quince.

Some of the topics covered are: Soils, Repotting, Disease Control, Plant Entomology, Positioning, Watering, Physiology, Running a Bonsai Yard, Wiring, Design, over 20 species of Conifers, Deciduous, and Broad-Leaved Evergreens, Developing Young and Old trees, Grafting, Growth Management, Japanese Aesthetics, Wabi-sabi in the 21st Century, Yamadori vs. Pot-grown, Ceramics, Pot Choice, Display, Creating Accent Plants, Designing a Garden, and Creativity in Bonsai.

A Seasonal covers a whole range of species for one window of time. Then we shift to another window of time and different species. For instance, there is little to do with Juniper or Limber Pines in late May, but a fair bit with Black Pine and Trident Maple.

Sessions may include experimental segments. These surf along the edge of what Seth Godin speaks about when he says “If it can’t fail, it’s not art.” So, we’ll be talking about creativity outside a traditional art. Within tradition we learn what shouldn’t fail.

Class sizes are small. I’m dedicated to boutique-style teaching with a maximum of 4 students. Sessions need not be all crammed into one year, but as finances and lifestyle permit. Days start at 9 am and end at 5 pm. Some parts are taught silent and by example, as bypassing the thinker, or the “worder,” is often best way to learn this body skill.

Seasonals run three consecutive days, lunches included, $850 per Seasonal (discounted rates are available for students). A $450 deposit is required to reserve a spot (refundable up to two months before session starts). We’re happy to suggest lodging at a nearby hotel, Air B+B, or bed and breakfast. Please bring a basic set of tools, but everything else is provided.

Lunches are inexpertly prepared by Chef Hagedorn

Although it’s recommended that new students start with a Winter Seasonal to acquire new repotting techniques and the foundation that this provides, any initiation time is fine. Skill levels are blended, with increasing levels of challenge for returning students.

Thanks everyone for attending the 2022 Seasonal year!

The 2023 dates are:

  • Winter Seasonals: Focus on repotting young and old bonsai, deciduous and conifer, pot-grown and yamadori; design; soils; grafting; Japanese aesthetics
    • February 2-4
    • February 23-25
    • March 2-4
  • Spring Seasonals: Focus on early year growth management; black pine decandling; deciduous defoliation, grafting; pest management; summer care and physiology
    • May 25-27
    • June 1-3
  • Summer Seasonals: Focus on in-line deciduous wiring; junipers; shari creation; tree ranking; perfecting watering; display; accent plants
    • July 20-22
    • August 3-5
  • Fall Seasonals: Focus on design; beginner and advanced wiring; pruning techniques; yamadori styling; white-out exercises
    • October 19-21
    • November 2-4

Please email for openings as they can fill rapidly. My suggestion is to send me notification of your interest the year before you intend to begin: crataegusbonsai@gmail.com. But openings occur throughout the year, so be bold.

Because demand is increasing for limited program spots, please fill out our application to share your influences and bonsai goals.

The Seasonal program, now fifteen years old, has served students around the world—join us!


A visit to the world-famous Portland Japanese Garden caps any visit to the Rose City

%d bloggers like this: