Students in the intensive programs begin study each season by learning how to care for different species. This includes learning techniques for developing and maintaining bonsai as well as the design considerations particular to each variety. Students have ample opportunities to improve their wiring throughout the intensive series.

Over time, students learn how to evaluate what a tree needs, and possess the newfound ability of confidently doing the work without supervision.

In past intensives students have learned bonsai care for pine (black, red, lodgepole), juniper (shimpaku, Utah, California, Sierra), Japanese maple, trident maple, flowering apricot, stewartia, quince, spruce, and cryptomeria, among others. With these trees, some freshly collected, others developed as bonsai for decades, students learn how to wire, style, and repot; how to cut back, pinch, and decandle; and sometimes how to display.

Frequently referred to as the most fun (and fast-paced) intensive, Winter III provides students the opportunity to help prepare for a bonsai exhibit. This includes everything from show wiring to cleaning deadwood, from selecting show pots to laying moss, and from refining a silhouette to creating accent plants. The hard work completed in this intensive culminates in a very rewarding bonsai exhibit.

Students receive handouts for each topic presented and take quizzes to reinforce the new material. Evening sessions usually include the study of bonsai videos and Japanese show books.