By Carole Tingley,  Journal contributing writer (Apex, North Carolina)

                     When I completed the three Introductory Workshop Packages that I ordered last fall, I was interested in continuing to learn bonsai and I wanted to try a variety of styles.  I thought about ordering the set of 8 IWP’s.  Since I’m a little bit impatient, I also thought about the larger 4LL8 (Living Lovable) size plants, but they are a bit more expensive plus it was very enjoyable to repot the baby plants for the first time. When I read about the new Premium Introductory Workshop Package, it seemed like the best of both – a larger, more advanced plant still in its original two-inch pot.

                David understood that I wanted a variety of styles, so he worked with me to select premium plants and a variety of workshop supplies.  He said “Every collection should include a Hawaiian Dragon”, but none of the premium plants are pre-trained to a dragon style.  For a small upgrade, he included a 4LL8 Dragon among my eight plants. I combined all of this with an order of eight IWP’s to give as gifts, and the whole package arrived in great shape in mid-December.  My order included plants and supplies for the following projects:

         1.  Sumo – Single Trunked bonsai

         2.  Sumo – Multiple Trunked bonsai

        3.   Roots – Single Trunked bonsai with snake-like exposed roots body with Kasa (umbrella crown)


        4.    Roots – Typical upright multi-trunked exposed root banyan


        5.   Sumo – Multiple trunked bonsai in 7” 1:10 project (To create a mini bonsai)


        6.    Dragon – 4LL8 Potted bonsai with established dragon trunk


        7.    Roots – 9” 1:10 project


        8.    Root-over-rock in a 9” 1:10 project

                 I asked for a challenge and I sure got one!




          The first thing I did was study each plant to determine which one was most suitable for each project.  I labeled them, but decided not to go strictly in numerical order.  For the first project I chose the plant that seemed the most mature and in need of repotting, which was No. 3, the Roots with snake-like exposed root body.  The Dragon will be last because it looks perfectly happy the way it is and is already suitable for display.




         I had already completed the standard Introductory Workshop Packages and I was very satisfied with those plants. But I was amazed at how much larger and more developed the Premium plants are. This is a photo of the plant in its original two inch pot, with a close-up that shows the robust size and complex root development.



       Although the Premium plants go into a larger pot, preparation of the pot was similar to the IWP. The workshop package came with plastic tie down strips, but I also threaded wire through the bottom holes. I thought I might need longer tie-downs for the roots styling, but as it turned out I found it difficult to tighten the plastic strips so I was glad I had the wires.  The coarse bottom material was mounded in the center of the pot, and the plastic square was placed on top of the mound.  The body mix was placed around the sides of the pot, covering the edges of the plastic square.



        Once the new pot was ready, I removed the plant from its old pot and loosened most of the soil mixture from the roots. Since this was to be a Roots styling, I was thrilled with the many long, sturdy yet flexible roots. I straightened out the roots so that they laid more or less parallel down from the trunk, and tied them together with soft cotton thread.




        The foil cone was prepared by making half-inch accordion folds in a doubled over strip of foil. Some body mix was put on the foil, then the roots were laid on the body mix. More soil covered the roots, and some nutrients granules were sprinkled around on the soil.


        The foil was closed around the roots and squeezed together at the top. The plant was turned upside down and the soil was gently firmed around the roots from the bottom with a chopstick.  The whole thing was then placed in the new pot on top of the plastic square. More soil was put around the edge and the wires were used to tie the plant securely to the pot. Small holes for ventilation were punctured in the foil with a fork, and the plant was set in water for 30 minutes to thoroughly soak the new soil. Water was poured into the top of the foil cone to make sure the soil inside the cone was thoroughly wetted.

          I’m very happy with my new “Roots” bonsai, and I highly recommend the Premium plants for study group members that have already completed their IWP’s and want to take the next step.
         - - - Carol Tingley

               It was wonderful to read this first Premium Introductory Workshop Package (PIWP-8) report and it really points out a lot of the features and concepts that we tried to incorporate to make it a really good value, but also ideal for a person who has done at least one Introductory Workshop Package.

              Like the overwhelming majority of our IWP customers,  we expect that those who will be purchasing the PIWP-8 will not have a person nearby to supervise and assist.  So it is necessary to have good cultural information to go with the unit and this is delaying the introduction.  We are also making adjustments and improvements based upon comments from those who have worked on a prototype model either as a member of the Fast-Track Study Group, or in taking a workshop here at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center in Kurtistown. 

              Since Carol received her units, we've made the following changes:  1)  Like the IWP,  we will include an X-tie down wire to secure the plant to the pot.  2)  Also like the IWP,  we will include an accent rock, but a bit larger than a golf ball.  3)  We'll try to improve the information in the cultural sheets.  4)  We're increasing the overall height standard for a fuller appearance upon completion.

              Currently the PIWP-8 is only available to MPBF and study group members as we want feedback on the relatively limited quantities available.  It is likely that PIWP will continue to be only available to MPBF and study group members.  With the amount of work and effort that go into these units,  there is very little profit,  especially when they are purchased with generous quantity discounts.  We do it to assist in building the Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai community and urge all other bonsai professionals to also produce such workshop packages and to assist their customers! 

              I see the IWP and PIWP as the most satisfying for a person who enjoys bonsai.  Compared to starting with a recently rooted cutting or untrained seedling,  it's really a joy to start with trees that have some character within one inch of the soil line.  It's also a bit scary (but satisfying after completed) to have the task and opportunity to position prepared bonsai stock into a bonsai future!  I believe that if the owner-trainer has the opportunity to start off the tree,  they will develop that special inter-dependant bond like between a parent and child which is a large part of the enjoyment of bonsai! 

            Just as learning how to create character within one inch of the soil level was the 2000 transformational breakthrough,  the first release of the Introductory Workshop Package in 2007 demonstrated our commitment toward customer support and teaching bonsai.  The plants in the IWP are 2 to 4 years in training and comparable to pre-trained plants that we plant in our HS8 Small Size Dwarf Schefflera Lava Plantings. 

            In the past seven years,  I've had a chance to study the large number of IWP plants that were completed as part of the workshop demonstrations at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center.  I've done some, but most were done by workshop manager Edison Yadao with some done by Michael Imaino.  These "demo trees" go out on the nursery benches and as they achieve standards, are offered for sale as Potted Living Lovable item 4LL8-Sumo. 

            I've also observed that plants that were segregated for our HD8 Desk Size Dwarf Schefflera Lava Plantings were of higher quality from the start and after another two years of training,  were far superior as those who purchase our desk size lava plantings can verify.  The desk size has always been amongst our best value products and we struggled to maintain production on it.  So it took us seven years to accumulate enough inventory to meet our needs and to consider introducing the Premium Introductory Workshop Package!

           Now as we prepare to release the Premium Introductory Workshop Package, we reaffirm our commitment to customer support and teaching bonsai, but much more!  The PIWP plant is our primary plant that is potted up and grown-on to become the larger, older medium and large size lava plantings,  potted 8LS8,  and Custom Collection.  In addition in the past year,  we've been running trials using the PIWP plant as mame bonsai, root-over-rock plantings,  in landscapes, and innovative new Custom Collection "Limited Editions." Every one was successful and we'll need to further increase production.  Apparently,  Dwarf Schefflera has an increased growth rate after it's been in training for 4-5 years and this is especially satisfying for an impatient hobbyist who has just a few plants to satisfy his or her bonsai interest. 

          A few of those in the Fast Track Study Group have had these for almost six months and all reports confirm my observations in a full range of growing conditions.  I believe that the PIWP plants will further accelerate the progress of those learning True Indoor Bonsai!

          Please contact me if you need more information or if you're interested in joining the study groups.  ~~~David  (


© Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2014