Crataegus Bonsai Seasonal
Although mixed with a lot of hilarity, the Seasonals are geared toward students who are serious about bonsai. The 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. The Seasonals offer syllabus-style education in addition to platforms for self-discovery. This is perhaps a more distilled, palatable, and fun version of the long-term and seriously stressed-out education I received as an apprentice from Kokufu and Prime Minister award-winning master Shinji Suzuki.
The core of the program is 2 years, meeting 4 times a year. In the Seasonals we won’t just be styling trees. The 2-year Seasonal Syllabus covers 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. All these subjects are covered with multiple tree species and with increasing depth of information in year 2, and students often come back for private sessions past the core years.
A Seasonal covers a whole range of species for one window of time. Then we shift to another window of time, and, sometimes, different species. For instance, there is very little to do with Ponderosa or Limber Pines in June, but quite a bit with Black Pine, Satsuki Azalea, and Japanese Maple. So we will shift our emphasis in both technique and species according to the season. All are significant skill-building classes, and there is a lot of applicable information in all the Seasonals regardless if we use the same species or not. I work with people who live in every corner of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and from as far away as Australia.
The class sizes are small. I am dedicated to offering boutique-style teaching for a maximum of 3 students for personalized attention. Seasonals do not need to be done sequentially, but as finances and lifestyle permit. Newcomers to bonsai are welcome, as are experienced practitioners.
Seasonal mornings start with sitting down around a table with a lot of tea, and covering the day’s material with words—handouts, quizzes, questions—which can last 1-2 hours or more. Often the talk migrates to the bonsai benches so we’re looking at the same things. By mid-morning students are in the studio with hands-on work for the rest of the day. Days start at 9 am and usually end in the late afternoon, although it is sometimes later with the more involved work days.
Seasonals run for three consecutive days, lunches and dinners included, $850 per Seasonal (discounted rates are available for students). A $450 deposit is required to reserve a spot. We do have fun with the great food that Portland is known for, and lodging is at a nearby hotel, Air B+B, or bed and breakfast (take a look a the B + B Sandes of Time). You will be asked to bring a basic set of tools, but trees, wire, soil, etc. are all provided.
This Mountain Hemlock was created in one of the very first Seasonal programs
A more experimental Seasonal day produced this Vine Maple ‘Tower’
Various stages in the development of this grafted juniper were done in the Seasonal classes
Some may ask, why travel to study bonsai? When the teacher travels, much less is learned than when the student travels. Although not easy to communicate why, this is almost a truism, and not just for bonsai. If a surgeon were to teach about surgery in your kitchen, you really wouldn’t learn as much as if you studied in a surgery room. Absorption is one feature that the Seasonals offer, which is how the apprentice studies. Also, study in the Seasonals assumes working on the bonsai here at Crataegus Bonsai (except for advanced students, who may bring their own trees.) The real benefit from studying on the teacher’s trees is that the information can then be brought back to the trees at home, and you get to reapply what was learned. That way the information is touched on twice in rapid succession, and begins to be assimilated as true learning.
In past Seasonals, we’ve covered the refinement of established bonsai such as 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. Designing new bonsai is featured in most Seasonals. These range from older collected yamadori conifers to growing and developing deciduous trees.
Winter Seasonals focus on repotting, while other Seasonals feature species appropriate visualization and styling, advanced wiring and bending, accent plants, and the study of display. A few past sessions have included experimental segments. Attention is paid to the interests of advanced students to help them create a personal bonsai yard that reflects their growing artistic sensibility.
Linda with a Chojubai Quince
Lunches are inexpertly prepared by Chef Hagedorn
Although it is 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.
Now in its tenth year, the Seasonal program was created out of requests of students from around the country who were interested in coming to Portland to study. Since the program was started in 2008 the yearly sessions have trebled due to demand. Join us and deepen your skills and appreciation of the rich and life-long pursuit of bonsai.
Thanks everyone for attending the 2017 Seasonal year! We were overflowing and had a waiting list.
The 2018 dates are:
- Winter Seasonals: New students: February 1-3 or February 8-10. Returning students: February 15-17 or February 22-24.
- Spring Seasonals: New students: May 17-19 or May 24-26. Returning students: May 31-June 2 or June 7-9.
- Summer Seasonals: New students: July 12-14 or July 19-21. Returning students: August 2-4 or August 9-11.
- Fall Seasonals: New students: October 18-20 or October 25-27. Returning students: November 8-10 or November 15-17.
Please email for openings as they do fill rapidly, my suggestion is to send me notification of your interest the year before you intend to begin: email@example.com
If none of these dates work for you, please call or email for a possible private or semi-private Seasonal session. I can often work in extra sessions, even 1 or 2 day sessions.
Because of the increasing demand for limited spots in this program, beginning in 2018 we have an application to give us an idea of your goals of bonsai, your influences, and why you think the Seasonals are the right choice for you.
A visit to the world-famous Portland Japanese Garden caps any visit to the Rose City