Bonsai Retreat Classes?

KingJades

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I know this is a really odd request and "shortsighted", but are there any good retreat-style bonsai programs that are like a 2-4 day seminar series? I'm quite new to the whole bonsai thing, so something with an extended hands-on component going through the basic motions with an experienced person might be good. Plus, traveling to random spot for a retreat vacation doing bonsai for a few days sounds like a real good time.

I've heard of Yoga retreats. Are there bonsai retreats?

I've watched a lot of Youtube videos and have been cramming knowledge, but I'd like to do it under the real life guidance and advice of someone with experience.

I know clubs can be good to learn from and there's a decent club near me, but I'd mostly be looking for something a little more focused on my development rather than asking for random pointers here and there. And, to completely disconnect from my normal surroundings and day to day life.
 

johng

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Not terribly close to you but Jim Doyle at Nature's Way Nursery in Harrisburg periodically offers Walter Pall's Bonsai academy...next one is in Oct I believe.
Boon...in northern Calif offers what he calls intensives...a series of 9 weekends offered over the course of several years....a big investment with travel and weekend expenses but certainly the most comprehensive set of instructional courses out there...
I believe Colin Lewis in Maine offers something like this as well...perhaps someone can share a link or just google...

There are a number of professionals that might provide something like this on request or perhaps in conjunction with a visit to your local club.

I would also check with your local club...often there will be members who you can visit, throughout the year, to learn in your environment.
 

Walter Pall

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Events with WP and Jim Doyle in 2016:



WOODSTOCK IX April 8 to 10

OKTOBERFEST IN HARRISBURG Oct. 30 to Nov. 2

WINTER STUDY WITH WALTER AND JIM Dec. 2 to 4





Location: Nature's Way Nursery, 1451 Pleasant Hill Rd., Harrisburg PA 17112



Times:

Friday 9:30 – 5:00 pm

Saturday 9:30 -5:00 pm

Sunday 10:00 – 4:00 pm



Application: Call Nature's Way (Jim Doyle) for more information and signing up

(717) 545-4555

natureswaybonsai@comcast.net

or natureswaybonsai@gmail.com



Fees: US$ 110/day or US$ 260/3 days// observers: US$ 50/day



Participants: This is for all levels– from outright newbie to master. Yes, all in one seminar and all get something out of it and all have fun. Even accompanying mates who never thought of attending a seminar could have fun. The number can be 20 to 30 or even more folks. One can be fully active participant or observer or passive viewing participant for one, two or three days. This is recommended for undecided newbies and travel company. The status can be changed to active any time- we warn you, most do change the status quickly. If you are not sure whether you want to really do this you are invited to come as 'lurker' for 20 minutes for free and then you decide.



General philosophy: Everyone does what they want to do and how much they want to do. While Jim Doyle and Walter Pall will make it clear what they thinkshould be done it is the participant who decides. The aim is to learn how to approach styling, and learn to see new ways and actually trying them out. New techniques will be taught like e.g. work on deadwood.

But the emphasis is on making design decisions. So many workshops teach wiring and basic techniques. This is taken for granted in this seminar. The emphasis is on what often is not taught: bonsai as art form. It is important to know your place in bonsai which offers many different ways. Learning by doing, learning by case studies is how we reach the aims. On many different trees we discuss and practice art, craft and speak about philosophy. Basic craft like wiring is often avoided to not waste time for things which really make a big difference (while they are important, but there are many workshops to practice these).

In many traditional workshop the teacher makes the decisions for the students who do exactly what he tells them and often the teacher actually does the critical work for the student. So the students never learn how to make decisions. To practice art is to make decisions all the time. The aim of the seminar it to teach how to make the right decisions. Your trees will most of the time not be touched by the teacher in this seminar.



What's going to happen: In the morning the first participants arrive. The nursery crew and Jim and Walter can help to choose trees for the workshop. All trees that the participants brought and the chosen ones from the nurser are carried to the greenhouse.

Usually a session of general interest follows speaking about many different subjects related to bonsai. This will most of the time take place in the yurt.

Then we go to the greenhouse. Walter or Jim start to speak about a tree to the whole class, explain choices and then may actually do a couple of things to the tree to give an example. Then the participants form groups which choose a tree and discuss it for 15 minutes or so. Usually every group has one old timer who knows where to go. Then the speakers of the groups present the trees to the whole class. After some discussions one or more feasible options are decided.

And then this will be actually done. Those who brought a tree can now decide whether they what to do the work immediately or can choose to do nothing with their tree at the moment. Whenever someone is finished the next tree is chosen to study, discuss and work on. The aim is to have many valuable case studies for leaning what usually is not taught at workshops. By presenting each tree to the whole class one learns about a couple dozen trees over the weekend compared with one normal workshops. Much more new experience and knowledge comes from that.

Generally we avoid doing craft work that is time consuming. Not that this work is not important. But we want to spend the time on things which are even more important and not taught usually.

Nobody is forced to work in a certain style. While it is well known that Jim and Walter work a lot in the Naturalistic Bonsai Style the actual style is decided by the participant – and often enough by the tree.

Once in a while Jim or Walter will speak about subjects of interest for a while.

An important part of the seminar are the social interconnections during the day and gatherings after work. Many long time friendships were built on these occasions.



Material: All active participants can bring their own trees. This can be very simple material to masterpiece. We speak about every tree in depth. The participant decides what he wants to actually do to the tree then.

In addition the nursery offers a great wealth of material that the participants can discuss and actually work on. These are mostly old to very old collected conifers like limber pine, ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, Colorado blue spruce. Alpine fir, Douglas fir and others as well as some deciduous broadleaved trees like hedge maples, trident maples, European hornbeam, Japanese maples and some others. Thereusually are 400 or more trees available to choose from. A few dozen are outright world class, many very good, all hand selected by myself. There are over 150 trees in the range from US$ 50 to 600, about 50 from 600 to 1,500. Everybody can find himself a genuine American collected tree. This is the biggest selection of this kind of trees west of the Rockies.

The 'borrowed' material can be purchased at any time, but it does not have to be purchased. The offer is that you actually do serious styling on the material and only afterwards decide whether you want it for yourself or not.

There usually is a special sale during the seminar weekends. The prices are usually reduced for most items which are offered at the nursery.

If someone does not want to participate in the seminar and is only interested in the trees you are welcome to visit the nursery to these special weekends.



Sign up right away!






























 

markyscott

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I've never worked with Walter, but I have with Jim at Brussels Rendevous (something else for you to look into) and I really enjoyed it. I've attended quite a few intensives with Boon and can say that I've learned more from that than anything else I've done. Adair has a great thread (occasional flame wars aside) on what it's like to attend an intensive. Have a look and see if it's for you:

http://www.bonsainut.com/threads/whats-it-like-to-attend-an-intensive-program.16073/

Ryan Neil and Michael Hagedorn have something along these lines as well. Ryan's programs are called "Defining Concepts" and Michaels are called "Seasonals", I believe. I've known people who have attended and they attest that these have been great for them as well.

http://www.bonsaimirai.com/workshops
https://crataegus.com/seasonals/

Point is, I think that there are a lot of quality opportunities for doing exactly what you're looking for.

Scott
 

coh

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Bill Valavanis has done some 2-3 day masterclasses the past couple of years. Pretty sure Sergio (@MACH5) participated in one (and there may even be a thread about it). I don't know if Bill has any scheduled for the upcoming year.

Edit to add - thread about the class: http://www.bonsainut.com/threads/my-weekend-with-bill.19367/
 

Lynn E

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KJ--come on over for Octoberfest with Jim and Walter. It is an immersive experience--I've been going for abt. 5 years and there is always more to learn. Actually there I am in photo 5 [black sweatshirt stolen from my son]. All levels are welcome and you will work on wonderful trees. Great trees, tools, and pots for sale too. Lynn

Walter-- I think Octoberfest is Sept 30th-Oct. 2nd. At least that's what Jim has on his website.
L.
 
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MACH5

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As you can see quite a bit of great options to choose from. I spent a long weekend up in Rochester at one of Bill's master classes. I thoroughly enjoyed it as the class was small and very focused. I did a variety of exercises, from setting up a bonsai for a formal display, to working on a few trees from Bill's collection, to a whole in-depth presentation on bonsai design and more. Although all very serious students of bonsai, the atmosphere was relaxed and fun. Another benefit was having time to walk around the garden and study Bill's trees up close. Invaluable lessons I took from that alone!


Here is the thread on that: http://www.bonsainut.com/threads/my-weekend-with-bill.19367/
 

Walter Pall

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Lynn,

thank you very much for pointing out the mistake. How could that happen!

Octoberfest 2016 is from September 30 to Ocotber 2, of course.
 

Adair M

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Information about Boon's Intensives can be found at www.bonsaiboon.com.

There are also a couple of interviews posted with several of past participants.
 

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