Review – Developing coniferous bonsai

Bonsai Empire launches a new online course focusing on coniferous bonsai. I will go through some of the highlights after viewing the key points of the full course. Adding my personal comments to the parts I watched.

Walter Pall.

Four teachers have been chosen for this course. All experts in each of their fields.

Walter Pall starts the course by taking you through the very basic steps about pre-bonsai. Selecting a tree and what to choose. How to style and securing healthy growth. 

This is my cup of tea because it is aimed at simple material that most people will be able to find at a nursery with some efforts. 

Why is that my cup of tea then? Because it makes it possible to set your own personal touch on a bonsai, not being pre-trained and locked in a certain style. It saves money too, but bonsai is a matter of exploring and developing the art. You don’t catch that part of bonsai if you are a collector who buys already trained and exhibition ready bonsai I find. Therefore I like the approach and use of either simple nursery material or roughly pre-styled bonsai. It makes the journey a bit more difficult and long-termed, but so much more satisfying to explore.

Is there something I dislike about the course at this point? Maybe the choice of material could be explained a little deeper, and especially that not every cheap plant is suitable for bonsai growing if it lacks potential. There is a trend in bonsai telling that everything can be a bonsai if you just are clever enough styling it. I find that untrue. Not said in this excellent course, but worth a notice. 

Harry Harrington.

Harry Harrington follows up and as a beginner, in bonsai, you will learn a lot from this and the other experienced bonsai artists. Harry explains the importance of the character branch and much more. And also excellently explains how styling and health must go hand in hand.

Next Jan Culek takes over with a simple Pine, explaining the first steps on styling a tree that will take years to develop. An important lesson because many still believe bonsai is instant.

The fourth teacher Mauro Stemberger takes us through the styling of a pretrained Itoigawa Juniper in shohin size followed up by apex design. 

Walter Pall explains that knowing how to wire is not enough. You also have to manage the arrangement and artistry of creating bonsai like a play of chess. A very well said and important information. Designing foliage clouds and adding volume is another of Walter’s important design pieces of information passed on.

Altogether a lot of information and carefully shown transformations are part of the course. Finalizing with the selections of pots, and repotting. And added a masterclass about wiring. The wiring may seem like something easy to learn. But trust me, I know many long time bonsai enthusiasts that will be able to learn a thing or two watching this.

An interesting bonus material is Jan Culeks rock plantings. Something that will inspire many who would like to give this style a go.

Jan Culek.

Summing up the course. I find the information’s excellent and important. As a novice in bonsai, there really is a lot to learn. For the experienced bonsai enthusiast, there also are inspirational content to put in the book when focusing on coniferous bonsai. Each bonsai artist has their own approach and style, making each artist worth learning from. 

You can sign up for the course at

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