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Todd Schlafer

Full-time Bonsai Professional and Bonsai Nursery

Denver, CO, USA


Todd's interest in bonsai began in 2002 which led him to Harold Sasaki, owner of Colorado Bonsai. Todd did everything from pulling weeds to eventually styling trees at the nursery. His obsession with collecting trees formed shortly thereafter, going with local conifer expert Jerry Morris on a collecting trip to Utah. He learned quickly that traditional design principles did not necessarily apply to collected material with sparse foliage and unconventional branches. In 2012 he began his studies with Ryan Neil to learn how to style and develop this Rocky Mountain area native material. His study with Ryan focused on advanced techniques of setting tree structure, which is the most difficult skill set to achieve in bonsai. From sunup to sundown he pushed himself to master those techniques. This inspired him to pursue bonsai practice full time and he began to instruct professionally as others started to seek him out for his expertise. The Rocky Mountain region has some of the best material in the world which Todd sources for his own collection and nursery. Now traveling throughout the United States visiting bonsai clubs, Todd has been a featured artist on the Bonsai Mirai live stream and leads instructional workshops and classes both locally and as a guest artist in numerous bonsai clubs in the U.S. His style is collaborative as native collected species do not follow a prescribed formula when styling, “it’s always a work in progress”.

Bonsai Philosophy: "People often ask me, is working on bonsai relaxing and Zen-like? Refining trees and maintaining foliage most certainly is. But while setting the initial structure of a collected tree isn't remotely relaxing, when done correctly it's one of the most fulfilling aspects of bonsai design. Watching the tree flourish following such work can be unbelievably rewarding. "


Collection: Extensive collection and nursery of collected native trees from the Rocky Mountain region including Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico

Specialty: Colorado native Pines, Spruce, Fir, Juniper, Aspen,

Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society, Artist of the year, 2012
Exhibitor at the Artisans Cup in Portland Oregon
Best North American Species award at the National Exhibition in
Rochester, NY, 2016
Participated in Generation Bonsai, Heidelberg, Germany
Best tree and accent plant, Douglas Fir, National Bonsai Exhibition,
Rochester NY 2020
Curator at the Greater Des Moines Botanic Gardens and Clark Collection,
Fresno Ca.
Featured artist: Bonsai Empire and Bonsai Mirai live stream

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