I have been studying bonsai since 1994, in an ever-increasing obsessive fashion. In our last 5 years prior to moving from Iowa to Alabama pursuing a career in the foodservice industry, my bonsai collection was limited to a few varieties that could survive brutal winters outside, or winters under dim light in the dank basement of our humble duplex...my wife puts up with a lot. Including the trailer hitch I put on our brown 1983 Chrysler New Yorker to pull a U-Haul full of trees to Nashville for a 3-month stop along the career path that led us to Alabama. 12 years later, we no longer have the New Yorker; and not a single one of those trees remain on my bench, having given the last holdout to a new club member this summer. I prefer collecting native trees and buying the classical species used in Japan, feeding organic, and reading everything I can get my hands on.
Bonsai Empire has done it again, Oscar has produced another very educational instructional series called Bonsai Intermediate Course 2, featuring lectures and demonstrations by masters Bjorn Bjorholm and Michael Hagedorn. Check it out here:
Below is the official press release, and my review of the content follows. Oscar was kind enough to provide advanced access to review and promote the new course.
Bonsai Intermediate Course 2 With Bjorn Bjorholm and Michael Hagedorn
In this course we take a deep dive in the topic of Pruning – breaking it down by tree species as well as by the developmental stages of the tree. Plus, we investigate Flowering Bonsai, Bunjin, and Winter care.
Course introduction In this course, we present you the most comprehensive curriculum available on Pruning your Bonsai. We focus on the nuances that each tree species presents, and break down the pruning techniques based on the developmental stages of your trees.
The expert teachers, Bjorn Bjorholm and Michael Hagedorn, also provide interesting tutorials on the Bunjin style (Literati), show how to create a root over rock Bonsai, and investigate various Fruiting and flowering tree species.
Understand and apply the essential Pruning techniques Expert teachers show you how to do it yourself Expand your knowledge of advanced Bonsai techniques and styles
Great production value, music and transitions. Filmed in a way that work is easy to observe, with appropriate close-ups, and time-lapse filming.
Having worked with Bjorn for a long time, this course is very consistent with his lectures. While nothing quite compares to hands-on work, his teaching is straight-forward and the demos are on accessible material, as well as advanced specimens.
Bjorn’s demo with the chuhin dwarf JWP shows exactly how he gets the results that he is famous for. Want your trees to look like his? This is what to do.
Their use of sped-up camera work cuts to the chase and still allows viewer to see it all happen. This motivates me to get back on my trees that have been neglected this year.
Trimming strong shoots on shimpaku is a controversial topic to the untrained, and Bjorn explains the correct way well, but then his hand conceals the close-up. This is the only criticism I can find to offer.
I have not had the pleasure of meeting or working with Michael Hagedorn, but he is easy to understand, relaxed in his approach, and quite endearing…almost like Bob Ross; which is intended as a compliment. “Last video we talked about getting fruits and flowers, in this video we’re going to ignore all that”. Sterilizing wounds is a new concept. Great lectures on Chojubai quince, with which he is synonymous. The demo is fantastic and the results are very nice.
When I estimated where Michael was going to cut, he was invariable less aggressive than I would be. Maybe something to consider, as his results are tasteful and proven.
These videos offer great depth of detail on what to do with multiple species and in wildly different phases of training…from a 3-year old shimpaku whip to a well-trained white pine. Good species discussion with emerging favorites here in the US too, like stewartia, JM, young cork bark JBP, and refined JWP. Something for everyone to be sure.
Additionally, the courses offer better and more deliberate descriptions of the “why” to the “what” they are each doing. And while it may seem tricky to offer a course with two very different teachers, neither man in the video contradicts the other. Bravo, all!
First off…if you’re reading this, you’ve hung through a break seemingly longer than AMC takes between seasons of their original series. Thank you. This has been a busy year of change and bonsai has been on the periphery at best. I’ll make a post on that at some point too, as I effectively took the year off any non-urgent bonsai tasks and it has been interesting to see what that does to a collection. I have been busy growing a new business, eking out a few summer trips, getting our daughter settled into her first apartment at college in Tampa, playing tennis with our son, running, etc. On top of it all, our daughter got engaged this month too. We are excited for her and her fiancé.
So….Here is where this story left off in October, 2020:
In Spring 2021, I adjusted some branches with guy-wires to tighten up the design.
This pine grows multiple buds from a single point, a strong one, and several weak ones. While candle-cutting, I am careful to also remove the weak shoots to ensure a second flush of new growth, rather than allowing the tree to sustain itself on the remaining weak shoots.
And now the tree will be allowed to regrow a second flush of shoots. I will only allow it to develop 2 shoots per terminal and hopefully avoid having weak shoots also appear.
October 2021, new growth is well underway. More needle pulling, and a little shoot selection. When the new shoots are hardened off, they can be wired.
I am strongly considering removing the first right branch and pushing all the movement to the left.
Next up, in November, I unwired the tree in preparation for fall work.
I took the tree to Bjorn’s in November and discussed removing the first right branch and setting movement toward the left. So off to work we went.
First up, the branch removed:
Next up, we addressed the stovepipe-straight section of upper trunk. I drew a couple lines were I would saw a wedge into the trunk and allow us to bend the trunk to create a little movement toward the left:
Fast-forward to mid-April, 2022 and the tree is growing. Not assured success just yet, but not a failure yet either. I decided to not repot and add stress. Next year, I can repot into the correct planting position.
Recently, Jeffrey Robson contacted me to share the Bonsai Society of Portland was posting a photo gallery of trees from Telperion Farms honoring Chris and Lisa Kirk’s contributions to the bonsai community. A photo of this tree will be included in this virtual show on May 14-15. The link for the show is here:
Fast forward another 5 months, and here is the tree in September 2022. No candle-cutting was done this summer, all wires are still on the tree. Later this fall, I’ll needle-pull to thin it out, remove tight wires and add new where they’re needed.