Marsman
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Looky What I Found! : Royal Burgundy Barberry

I just love this time of year in New England! The nurseries have there stock on sale for 50% off and there are a ton of treasures out there to be found.

I stopped by my local nursery where they know me well. I was poking around at the roots on the various trees when I came upon this little gem. The lady there told me they had dropped a tree on it and she'd give it to me for 75% off. Who was I to argue?

Royal Burgundy Barberry (Barberis Thunbergii)

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/IMG_6043.jpg[/img]

JTred
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That could be a good looking bonsai rather quickly, and I'd say getting it at 75% off is a deal. There are a ton of those at one of the dealers I landscape it, I'm just waiting for them to ask us to pull some of the ones that are always in the way so I can keep it. I'm not sure if yours is the same species, but if it is they have some interesting features. For one, any leaves that don't get much sunlight (like when the foliage is very dense) stay green, but once they get some light they turn red. Second, they have thorns, but the thorns are pretty much hidden by the leaves, so it doesn't really pose an aesthetic problem, just a slight safety issue. Third, this is just a guess, because I work with ones that are in the planter beds, but they seem to be pretty strong grower. We have to trim them at least 2 or 3 times per summer, and they really thicken up after you trim them, then again this could be different in a bonsai context. It looks like yours already has a nice thick trunk and lots of ramification, good find!

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Marsman,

That is nice stock. What are your plans for it? I am thinking I can see some reverse taper beginning to form at the knot. It may be time (not necessarily this time of year) to remove one of the two main branches. The lowest one on the left might serve as a sacrifice branch to help the tree outgrow the reverse taper. It might be best to plan on not pruning that particular branch anytime soon. You might find this of interest.

https://www.why-bonsai.com/bonsai_history_berberis.html

Norm

builder0101
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Total novice here but I see a possible formal upright (given enough correction to what will be the under developed right sdide) if the Right main branch is removed, and the lower left like you said was left as a sacrificial limb for a while. The potential taper really looks great above the knot and continuing up through the Left main branch.

am I seeing it right Norm?

Thanks,

Mike.

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Mike,

It might be possible given enough time but to my eye I think this one is better suited to an informal upright as it already has some movement fairly low. If a new leader was wired vertically and enough time was allowed to pass the low movement might lessen over time. But then you would have to chop the new leader and do it all over again. Formal uprights can be difficult to create due to the problems of creating taper without inducing movement.

Norm

Marsman
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Norm,

At this time, I'm not quite sure of the final look, but it will be an informal upright / twin trunk*. Just picked it up yesterday. It may just be [url=https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Barberry/Barberry_10-29-09.jpg]the picture[/url], click on it to see it larger, but the taper isn't too bad. I haven't come up with a final design for it, but I'm thinking a broom top.

I know I don't have anywhere near the trunk as the shot below, but it has the shape I'm going for with the top of mine. With the branch structure, I'll have much more exposed trunk, which I think will look good. I like the way the trunk looks.

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Barberry/Berberis20thunbergii20atropurpurea2.jpg[/img]

* Would it qualify as a twin trunk with the branching so high up on the trunk?

builder0101
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Norm,

OK I looked again and I see what you mean about the inherent movement. Other than that my assessment is OK?
By the way I was watching a you tube video on a guy in the UK who was shaping trees with tools I.E. cutting away unwanted characteristics in trunk lines etc. I wonder if the Barberry would allow a little shaping of that knot.

Thanks and thanks,

Mike.

builder0101
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Marsman,

I don't know much but given 20 years or so I think you have every reason in the world to ecpect a trunk like that. Why not. That tree started much like yours I am sure.

Mike.

Marsman
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I'll be working on it! :D

Marsman
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NO00OoooO0OoooOOoo00O00ooo!!!!1!!! :shock:

I looked at my barberry this morning and one of the branches had been snapped off! :x

Half my tree is GONE. :cry:

I'll bet one of my goofy dogs stepped on it.

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Barberry/?action=view&current=Broken-Branch-3-11-10.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Barberry/th_Broken-Branch-3-11-10.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Barberry/?action=view&current=aea2c0f0.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Barberry/th_aea2c0f0.jpg[/img][/url]
Click on each picture to see them larger.

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Marsman,

I feel your pain. It's bad enough when you screw something up yourself but when something happens that is out of your control it's even worse. Look on the bright side, as I mentioned earlier, one of the branches would probably best be removed. I think I preferred leaving the other but what ya gonna do? :roll: Don't despair. What is it that the Marines say, adapt , improvise and overcome?

I have a very similar plant that I am keeping pruned to one leader while simultaneously allowing some sacrificial branches to grow unchecked. The snow just melted from it this past week. I'll post a few shots later this year after it leafs out.

Norm

Edit: A second, closer, look shows that the trunk-line I preferred is not entirely gone, this may still work for you. Don't do anything drastic, over time you may come to appreciate the accident.

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