I had the great pleasure last year to review the content on Bonsai Empire’s Intermediate Course with Bjorn Bjorholm. I was delighted when Oscar asked if I’d be willing to give my honest opinion of the new Bonsai Fundamentals Course with Michael Hagedorn of Crataegus Bonsai.
Over the last week I had the opportunity to work my way through the course videos to get a feel for the content available to everyone else from today.
My first impression was that, as per usual, the video content was professionally put together and Michael did not waste a single word in is clips. A well polished product.
Having then watched the content I feel that the main drive of the course is to answer the why questions. We all do things to our trees, pruning, pinching, repotting etc, but do we always know why we do these things. We also style our trees into certain shapes following centuries of Japanese tradition, but again, do we know why we follow these styles? Michael lays it all out there for you to understand both the physiological reason behind the techniques and timings that we use and also the aesthetic reasons behind why we do it a certain way. If you have read Michael’s book, Post Dated The Schooling of an Irreverent Bonsai Monk ISBN: 978-0-9801094-7-4, you’ll have a good feel for the type of character he is. He offers a different slant on bonsai compared to others I have worked with over the years and I found his view on bonsai refreshing. I look forward to hopefully visiting him in person in June this year on my travels.
The layout of the control panel is easy to use with clips chopped up into short sections specific to topic that you can go back over again and again until it sinks in 🙂
With most gallery format bonsai books costing the same as this course, or magazine subscriptions for that matter, I feel what’s on offer is good value for money.
I have tried to think of negatives to balance this review but am struggling. Comparing it to the Beginner and Intermediate course isn’t really fair either. Many elements to Bjorn’s content were more instructional ie. this is how you wire, this is how you repot etc. Michael’s content has a different feel to it but there is a tonne of information in there to be had.
Where does a course like this fit in with the world bonsai community?
There are a lot of people out there who don’t live near an established teacher or have a local club. Bonsai Empire courses fill a niche in the market that not only with satisfy such people, but also add to the learning of others. If you are like me you are hungry for more than is generally on offer at clubs workshops and events, then this is for you as well. We take many of the things we do in bonsai for granted without asking why we do them. We have people like Michael and Bjorn working with Bonsai Empire, or for that matter, Ryan Neil and Peter Warren, all Japanese trained bonsai professionals with all the answers to the why questions. Courses like this give us direct access to this information in an easy to use, and use again format. If you haven’t tried any of the Bonsai Empire Courses then perhaps give one of them a go and see what I mean.
All that remains is to ask where the outtakes are 🙂 Any video of Michael I’ve seen, his Q&A session for example, show him to be a giggler. Therefore there has to be a heap of outtakes sitting in a digital folder somewhere. Come on Oscar 🙂
A big thank you to both Michael and Oscar for giving me the opportunity to review this. I look forward to the next instalment, whatever that might be.
Nice post Ian,I will be signing up.