Bonsai Empire The Advanced Bonsai Course review

Bonsai Empire

Part 1 of Advanced Bonsai Course

A simple look at the internet shows quite clearly that there is an army of so-called “professionals” and “teachers” out there – those whose ability to switch on a camera and make YouTube recordings of themselves butchering a tree far surpasses their actual Bonsai knowledge, skill and teaching prowess. So how do you recognise a good Sensei, Master or Teacher? Just as you trust a recognised name in anything you buy you must do the same when choosing an online bonsai course.

Two of the biggest names in Bonsai have collaborated on producing an Advanced Bonsai Course, Bjorn Bjorholm and Bonsai Empire have put together an exceptional course for intermediate and advanced learning. I consider $69.99 for lifetime access with no membership incredible value for money.

I have been working with bonsai for over 30 years but still, I found this course to be informative, educational and enlightening. Perhaps the most valued aspects of this course are the detail video coverage and execution of techniques. I particularly liked the approach grafting as I have not seen anyone go into the level of detail as shown on this course.
This is the Advanced course and Bjorn does refer back to the Intermediate course on a few occasions so it’s worthwhile subscribing on that too!

Course highlights

– Advanced techniques – including grafting, heavy bending, detail wiring, nebari
development, applying moss for display
– Wide selection of tree-species, in different stages of development
– Background information on philosophy and aesthetics
– 6 hours of video-lectures, with English subtitles, added where necessary
– Questions about the lectures are answered by Bjorn

So the burning question is why pay when you can get it for free? The answer is simple, this course is concise, well executed and damn good value for money.

To quote John Ruskin:

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little, or even free. When you pay too much; you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little or even get something for free, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”



The moment I realised Bonsai was what I wanted

This photo is a record of the most significant moment in my Bonsai journey. The year is 1991 and it’s the World Convention in Birmingham, England. THIS was the first time I saw actual real Bonsai in a proper location, displayed well. At the time my club did not want to drive the 80 miles or spend the princely sum of a £12 entrance. Terry and I realised that this was a great opportunity and ignored the objections from my club members and journeyed south. We were not disappointed, quite simply our minds were BLOWN! The size of the trees on display, the quality of display and how busy the show was. Lesson learned, follow your own path, do what is best for your own development and your older peers do NOT always know what’s best! And thank you Terry Foster for your friendship all these years.

Bonsai, an infection with no cure


I know exactly when it started, a guy that gave me a little oak tree that he had grown from an acorn, unbeknown to me I had been infected with a condition that would take over my life. I bumped into him a few years ago and he saw that the infection was permanent and there was no apparent cure. My every waking moment is filled with ideas on how to manage and when I sleep I dream of what will be­. I have struggled over the last few years but now I have resigned to the fact that its something I simply have to live with.

There was a time, many years ago when I could not drive past a garden centre, I knew that somewhere around the back would be something that everyone else had missed, this too became an obsession. My garden filled with what I was sure would, one day, be amazing. I joined a club, did these folks have the same infection as me? Some did, but most did not have the craving that was inside me. The club was my clinic, it cured a small part of me but my infection was too severe and these guys did not have a remedy.

An exposure to a more virulent strain of this disease happened when I visited my first big show. I could have turned back and managed the small infection inside me but the addiction was too strong and the aching too intense. I need to seek help to resolve this ache, thankfully I had a buddy who was also suffering from this debilitating affliction.  We could face this together, having someone to share your challenges can ease the pain.

We sought out a specialist who should have been able to cure us, he did offer some relief but we needed further treatment as exposure to others with the same ailment simply worsened our condition. As time passed my buddy and I sought solace by travelling to different parts of the world to engage with those with the same debilitating condition, experts offered advice on how to manage our situation, merchants offered ‘miracle’ cures and solutions but they were simply too expensive… there was only one solution, we had to find our own antidote.

Was the cure to be found in nature, could we even find it? After years of searching, we eventually found comfort and we are now in recovery, but this is not the end of my sorry tale. There is a country far far away where they have managed this condition, having brought it under control through many generations, they can sell you a cure but you have to pay big for the remedy, and some do therefore easing their suffering.

Knowing that there are so many who suffer as I do brings me comfort. It may take years to bring the infection under control, particularly for those that live in a climate not suited to the ailment, we will get there… eventually.