It took me years to figure out how to get the most out of workshops. Here are some tips to avoid downtime and get the most out of your bonsai classes.
- Bring clean and healthy trees.
- Ensure trees are free of pests and pathogens.
- Remove any weeds growing in the pot.
- Don’t expect to work on a weak or sick tree; many teachers will recommend letting trees recover before working on them.
- Do bring weak or sick trees if you have questions about how to increase vigor or troubleshoot health problems.
- Ensure tree is well-secured in the pot; don’t expect to wire trees that are wobbly in their container as working on poorly-secured trees can break fine roots and weaken the tree.
- Bring trees at the right time of year for the work you want to do.
- Ask the workshop leader what kind of work is appropriate for the time of year.
- Check to see if your club has a calendar with recommended times to do seasonal work.
- Bring more trees than you think you need to keep busy.
- Bring trees you have questions about.
- Bring trees you can work on independently between visits from the workshop leader.
- If you’d like to do work that requires specialized tools or supplies, bring them!
- Bring soil, pots, and repotting tools if you plan to repot.
- Bring a grafting knife and grafting supplies (which may include grafting or buddy tape, pins or nails, and scion material for side veneer grafts); make sure it’s the right time of year for the kind of grafting you’d like to do.
- Bring wire if you plan to wire your trees.
- Check with the workshop leader before packing power tools.
- Don’t expect workshop leaders to have carving tools available for students.
- As much as possible, keep questions short and focused.
- Take notes if you’re a note-taker.
- Take photos or video if you want an image-based record of what you learn.
- Be open to trying new things.
- There’s no better time to build up your technique than when you have a guide to help you get started and to provide feedback that can keep you on track.
These are the tips that helped me stay productive in workshops – share your tips in the comments below!
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Lowell R Tilley says
Very good advice, as usual.
Joe Lentner says
Be considerate of other workshop attendees and don’t monopolize the leaders time with multiple trees while others are struggling with their tree.
Super timely, about to attend workshop on Saturday with Sergio Cuan! Thank you for the advice 🙂
Ryan / Ry2Tree2 says
Great write up Jonas! As I’ve started hosting my own workshops this year, I’ll be sure to share this with the local club and my clients as it will become a useful reference I’m sure.
I wonder what such an article would look like if you focused on elements of successfully hosting/teaching a workshop? It would definitely be a more niche audience, but I’m still learning that part lol.
Jonas Dupuich says
Good question Ryan, I have half a mind to give that a try!
Marty Weiser says
Do you mind if we repost this to our club websites and newsletters with attribution to you and the Bonsai Tonight website?
Jonas Dupuich says
Feel free Marty, thanks!
Dan B says
Jonas, I have been addicted to your academic/intellectual approach to bonsai and horticulture for a few months and have been scavenging your demonstrations on youtube, is a youtube channel in the cards soon?
I feel that your lectures on ABAS and other bonsai societies have been substantially more informative and holistic about the botany, science and technique than many other popular channels and you bring a lot of critical technicality to the table that is very helpful.
Jonas Dupuich says
Thanks for the note, Dan, I really appreciate it! I’ve planned to do more videos for years now while other projects keep bumping the plan back. I don’t know that I can do much this summer but I’m hoping I can start making something this fall or winter. Fingers crossed!