Graham Potter – Kaizen & Bonsai

Kaizen & Bonsai

Graham Potter

Graham Potter

Kaizen (Ky’Zen) is a Japanese word meaning ongoing continuous improvement, it is most often encountered in the west as a business management strategy but is just as relevant in any area of human endeavour. The kaizen concept is concerned with gradual improvement in the processes involved in attaining a particular goal, ultimately enabling us to achieve a superior quality result in less time with less effort. Assuming that the way which we are currently working is the worst solution, we constantly seek to improve. Through education, experimentation and observation we can combine and blend our experience into new, efficient working practices that can open up exciting possibilities. The Kaizen School of Bonsai is evolving as a corradiation for the benefit of all its students.


I believe that the essence of bonsai can be summed up in the word harmony. All living things are united at some level and no action can be taken without consideration for its peripheral consequences. At the outset of our bonsai experience we seek to shape the tree in its outward manifestation only but, with experience comes the realisation that in fact, what we doing is encouraging the elan vital to manifest itself in a beautiful way. All we can do is provide outward stimulation and assistance. Once we contravene the trees imposed boundaries failure is inevitable. A beautiful bonsai is one that is in equilibrium and this can only be achieved through the bonsai artists sympathy for, and mastery of the existential.


I first came to bonsai in the early 90’s: however by the beginning of 1999 I was very close to walking away from bonsai having been disillusioned and thoroughly discouraged all round. Following eight years of hard work, reading and workshops my trees were all an awful embarrassment. But, as the old saying goes…” When the pupil is ready the teacher appears”. In the spring of that same year I had the good fortune to meet with Kevin Willson whose no‑nonsense attitude to bonsai and stunning collection of trees set me ablaze. Since that time bonsai has become my all‑consuming passion in life.

There is so much for us to learn about our creation of beautiful bonsai and so many aspects that crave our attention, but, more importantly, there is a great deal that bonsai and the tree can teach us. Be a student of nature.

Graham Potter

Ars longa, vita brevis