Beginning Bonsai

Are you mystified by the many centuries old Japanese tradition of bonsai? Join us for an entertaining and informative class that debunks the myths, fictions and misconceptions surrounding this living art form. Each participant receives a tree, pot, wire, soil and gravel for this hands-on experience of creating a finished bonsai to take home. Expert bonsai master Hal Sasaki and horticulturist Larry Jackel have designed and curated the content of this course.

** This class sells out very quickly; class size is small for hands-on instruction and attention from instructors. Please register early.

Special Instructions: A lunch break is provided. Bring your own or purchase onsite.

Price: $145, $135 member

Instructors Vary

Tom Anglewicz

Now retired, Tom spent more than two decades as an architect in San Diego, where he first began the practice of bonsai. In 2011 he and his wife moved to Boulder, built a greenhouse and brought many bonsai to Colorado. Tom has practiced the art of bonsai for 18 years and focuses primarily on native Colorado species, especially pines. He served as a three-year president of the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society.


Henry Basile

Henry is a horticulturist at Denver Botanic Gardens specializing in the Japanese Garden and Tea Garden. Henry studied production horticulture at Kansas State University and has since specialized in structural and selective pruning, Japanese gardening techniques and bonsai. He has an additional passion for native/adaptive plant material found in the tallgrass prairies of Kansas and within the many ecosystems provided by the Rocky Mountains. Henry was the 2022 Curators Apprentice at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington D.C., where he continued to hone his skill in working with bonsai, penjing, niwaki and character pines, as well as gain a greater understanding of Japanese gardening techniques and art forms adjacent to bonsai.


Cassie Dolittle

Cassie graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science in landscape horticulture with an emphasis on design. She has worked in commercial and residential landscape design/build in Colorado since 2001. After serving in the Peace Corps as an agricultural extensionist, Cassie moved to South Korea for four years to pursue education experience. This is where she came to admire bonsai and Asian pruning aesthetics. Upon her return to the United States, she started working for public gardens specifically in horticulture education. Cassie joined Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms in 2019 and has since become a certified arborist. Bonsai allows her to combine her design background, horticultural knowledge, as well as her arborist training.


Shealyn Elstein

Shealyn graduated in 2016 from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science and forest ecology. With a background in plant care and experiential education, Shea joined Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms in 2021 as a horticulturist. She currently manages the Lavender Garden, historical Iris Collection and Deer Creek Discovery Children's Play Area. Shea's passion for combining art and design principles with botanical knowledge sparked her interest in practicing bonsai.


Connie Garrett

Connie has been involved with bonsai and Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society since 2016. For Connie, working with elms as well as tropical and sub-tropical species of plants offers both satisfaction and success. Her philosophy about choosing material is If I cant lift it, I cant have it. She enjoys sharing her love of this horticultural art form.


Steven Hahn

Steve has been involved in the art of bonsai for the last eight years. He is a member of the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society and currently volunteers at Denver Botanic Gardens' Bonsai Pavilion. Steve appreciates the ability to combine artistic skills with living plants and the joy that it brings to himself and others. He has had an interest in plants for most of his life and has a degree in botany from Colorado State University.


Larry Jackel

Larry saw his first bonsai at the Midwest Bonsai Society annual show in Dundee, Illinois, in 1972. Ever since, he has studied bonsai and acquired trees. A move to Denver in 1976 connected Larry with the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society, which provided the nurturing necessary for him to become proficient in the art and craft of bonsai. Larry chooses trees for bonsai from the Front Range, particularly the ponderosa pine but also the limber pine, bristlecone pine, pinion pine, Douglas fir and the Rocky Mountain juniper. He teaches about these conifers in lectures, demonstrations and workshops across the country. In 2012, he joined the horticulture staff at Denver Botanic Gardens as its bonsai specialist. He develops and maintains the bonsai collection displayed in the Bill Hosakawa Bonsai Pavilion.


Will Kerns

Will has practiced bonsai for 22 years. He specializes in creating bonsai trees from Colorado native species and knows how to create world-class bonsai compositions. Will was named the 2013 Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society artist of the year. He lives in Wheat Ridge.


Paul Koenning

Paul is an arborist who loves studying tree growth patterns and how specific species respond to environmental conditions. Realizing similarities in growth patterns between differing species guides his approach to styling bonsai and pushing boundaries. For Paul, investigating and understanding how trees respond to environmental conditions is where beauty is captured.


David McPeters

David has been a bonsai enthusiast for 20 years and is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society.


Harold Sasaki

Harold has taught bonsai classes at Denver Botanic Gardens since 1977 and has conducted workshops and demonstrations across the United States and Canada since 1980. He is a frequent lecturer/demonstrator at national, regional and international conventions and seminars. He is a master in collecting, training and creating bonsai. In 1985, Harold expanded his hobby into a full-time business when he opened Colorado Bonsai Ltd. in his backyard. His mission in life is to demystify the art of bonsai, so more people can experience the enjoyment that comes from successfully growing this fascinating living art form. He is passionate about connecting with nature, deeply respecting and nurturing life, and experiencing the calmness and peace that come with this meditative form of art and beauty.

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