“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 and skills to use traditional techniques in your own way, as a launchpad for personal expression.

This 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. 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 stressed-out education I received as an apprentice from Kokufu and Prime Minister award-winning master Shinji Suzuki.

Some may ask, why travel to study bonsai? The answer is that 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 surgery in your kitchen, you wouldn’t learn as much as if you studied in a surgery room. The Seasonals offer absorption in an education-rich environment, which is how the apprentice studies.

Also, Seasonals assume working on the onsite ‘teaching collection’, bonsai I’ve developed for many years to offer students what I had in Japan. Advanced students may bring their own trees in private sessions, or if pre-approved, for Seasonals. But the real benefit of studying on highly developed teacher’s trees is that by working on developed plants it’s easier to see the path forward.

Many years worth of memories

In past Seasonals, we’ve covered established bonsai refinement 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.

The core of the program is 2 years, meeting 4 times a year. Some of the topics covered are:

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.

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 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 within a traditional art.

Class sizes are small. I’m dedicated to offering boutique-style teaching for 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 in the late afternoon. Some parts are taught silent, as bypassing the thinker or the worder is often best way to learn this body skill.

Seasonals run 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’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.

Thanks everyone for attending the 2019 Seasonal year! (We took a break in 2020…)

The 2021 dates are:

  • Summer Seasonals:
    • 1st Year students: Jul.22-Jul.24
    • 2nd Year students: Aug.5-Aug.7
  • Fall Seasonals:
    • 1st Year students: Oct. 21-23
    • 2nd Year students: Nov. 4-6

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-

Vaccinations are required to participate.

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

The Seasonal program is now thirteen years old, and has served students around the world. Join us and deepen your skills and appreciation of this rich and life-long pursuit ~


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

%d bloggers like this: