Recently Bjorn Bjorholm and Empire Bonsai (Oscar Jonker) released their latest online Advance Bonsai Course.Bjorn is an American bonsai artist who has been studying and practicing bonsai since he was 13 years old from Knoxville, Tennessee. After graduating college he traveled to Japan to study bonsai with Keiichi Fujikawa at Kouka-en Bonsai Garden in Osaka, Japan. During his six year apprenticeship he also worked on this PhD thesis in Kyoto on business.
Bjorn was Mr. Fujikawa’s first apprentice and after completing his studies became the first and only foreign bonsai professional artist working in Japan. During his apprenticeship and later working for Mr. Fujikawa he spent considerable time refining established famous bonsai which were later displayed in the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibitions, Sakufu Bonsai Exhibitions and the Taikan Bonsai Exhibitions. He also produced a considerable number of excellent and informative YouTube videos, which are packed full of information and still available.
Last year Bjorn and his wife returned to the United States and settled in Mount Juliet, outside Nashville, Tennessee. They are now establishing their new bonsai garden “Eisei-en,” scheduled to open on September 1-2, 2018 with an Open House full weekend of lecture/demonstrations by Mauro Stemberger and Naoki Maeoka.
Bjorn maintains an extremely busy teaching schedule in the United States as well as in numerous foreign countries. During his teaching schedules he has managed to release three online bonsai courses with Bonsai Empire. I don’t know where he finds the time to teach, establish his new garden as well as produce teaching videos. Yes, I do, its called “Youth” and his excellent organizational skills.
The first Beginner’s Courseestablished a three-part tutorial with the basic introduction to bonsai covering history and styles followed by basic pruning, wiring shaping and care. Brief quizzes end each section to make certain students understand what Bjorn is discussing and explaining. Throughout the tutorial he emphasized the health of bonsai. Many techniques revealed are not successful if the tree is not healthy. Although the tutorial is named Beginner’s Course there is something for everyone. I learned some new information too making this course not only a great introduction, but review with new information suitable for everyone training bonsai, even those with decades of experience.
The Intermediate Bonsai Coursecontinues and covers in more detail topics introduced in the Beginner’s Course. It features hours of in-depth technical and practical content, which has never been presented in an easy platform. Species specific lessons including maples, hornbeams, pines and junipers are presented. Contemporary bonsai design and aesthetics are thoroughly discussed in the three and a half hour tutorial.
The newly released Advanced Bonsai Coursereleased in May covers four distinct sections: Philosophy, Aesthetics & Design, Techniques and Display, each of which builds upon the others to provide a well-rounded, in-depth look at the art of bonsai and design.
In the Techniques section,advanced bonsai techniques, which are applicable to a wide range of species, such as covering bending heavy branches on conifers, grafting, exhibit preparation and display. It is interesting and important that Bjorn does only focus on Japanese species, but incorporates United States and European native species.
The philosophy section delves into the nuances of what the word “bonsai” really means and represents. The Aesthetics & designsection builds on the philosophy bonsai discussing environmental, cultural influences on bonsai art and design. The techniques for applying moss to bonsai for display explained by Bjorn are great.
This six hour Advanced Bonsai Courseis excellent in my opinion and is comprehensive for the advance study of bonsai art. Several years ago Bjorn wrote a three-part article in International BONSAI on the history of bonsai. The Advanced Bonsai Coursetutorial continues the article with additional information through photos and excellent narrative by Bjorn. Breathtaking photos of gardens in Kyoto, scenic views in Japan as well as bonsai in displays as well as in gardens enhances the narrative. Actually, if you only listen to Bjorn, without enjoying the photos, which is difficult to do, the Advanced Bonsai Coursetutorial reads like a book. I hope Bjorn finds the time to put in writing what he beautifully and thoroughly explains in book form so people without computers can learn from this talented, knowledgeable and personable professional bonsai artist. Hopefully I will have the time to watch and learn from the tutorials when I have time. I look forward to learning from Bjorn and watching his influence on bonsai outside of Japan. Additional information on Bjorn and his new garden can be found at:
You can take your bonsai skills and abilities to new heights by enrolling in the online Bonsai Courses.Information on all three bonsai courses can be found at:
A few free lectures from the Advanced Bonsai Coursemay also be previewed at: