Barberry (Berberis)
August 2006

I learned of a trailer park that was going to be bulldozed to make way for a new housing sub division. I gained permission
from the owners to collect any trees I found suitable.
Since I didn't know how long the park would be left without bulldozing I had to collect the trees quickly even though
August is far from the ideal time of year to collect trees or shrubs, especially shrubs you know nothing about!

The weather was hot and humid during collection. I had plastic construction bags to wrap the root ball for the 20 mile
transport home and water to keep the soil damp.

First of all I chopped the trunks back so that I could get in close enough to the base to dig up the tree. I was very lucky
with this tree in that the former owners had planted the tree on top of a plastic bag. This had created a perfect shallow
root ball for collection. I found that I could practically tilt the tree out of the soil.
Because of neglect, dry weather and poor growing conditions, the tree had very little foliage on it and none after I had
cut it back. I was very unsure about the survival of the tree, not only because of its health but also because I had no
idea what kind of tree it was.
After getting the tree home, I planted it in the compost pile I have in the back yard, that being the only location I had for it
at the time. That location also provided partial shade and wind protection.

The tree then sat stagnant for a month before putting out the first new leaves in late September. The tree put out very
little growth before then going dormant in November.

March 2007

The tree began to put out numerous buds in March 2007. I built a grow box for it out of wood and bare rooted the tree to
remove the ground soil. After spraying the soil from the root ball, I found a shallow mass of healthy roots. After a minor
root prune, I planted the tree in the box using 100% Turface.
At this time I also sent Harry Harrington an e-mail requesting his help with this tree. Harry was gracious enough to agree
to help. Without Harry's help I would have chopped apart the clump and attempted an informal upright with the largest
trunk. Following Harry's ideas for this tree, I pruned branches and removed trunks to initial shape.

April  2007

To begin with, new trunk lines for the tree needed to be established. All unnecessary branches were removed.
The curving trunk in the back was guy-wired down into position.

The tree was then fed, watered heavily and allowed to grow. I pruned any growth that did not extend the chosen trunk
lines to concentrate the tree's energy where it was needed. All unnecessary buds on the trunks were rubbed off.

The tree grew very vigorously and in June, following Harry's advice, I stripped the foliage from the branches to be able
to see where the new trunk lines were and to remove any doubled up shoots. The remaining branches and trunk lines
were wired and positioned.

The tree was again allowed free growth until September when the branches and trunks were pruned back. I continued to
feed and water heavily. Any shoots or buds that were not beneficial to the design were removed or pinched back until
the tree went dormant.

Spring 2008

The tree leafed out very early that Spring and began growing strongly. I kept the shoots pinched back and tried to build
foliage pads. The small trunk on the left was not looking right so I leaf stripped and wired it again.
The curving trunk in the back had never looked quite right and although Harry had advocated leaving it, I decided to
shorten it. The tree was as deep as it was tall and wide and just never did look right to me.

I wired new shoots to begin building taper to it. I also leaf stripped the apex of the middle trunk, rewired and shaped it.
The tree was again fed and watered heavily and allowed to grow with only shoot pinching to further build the foliage
pads and rubbing pesky buds from the trunks until the tree went dormant for the winter.

Spring 2009

Vic Harris of Erin Pottery, who was building a custom pot for the tree, had a problem with the weather over the winter
and my pot was one of several that cracked and needed to be rebuilt. The new pot would not be ready in time for the
potting season. In early March I removed the tree from it's grow box and pruned the roots to fit into a new grow box that
was the approximately the size of the intended custom pot. It was then potted up with 100% Turface.
I also removed the curvy back trunk that just never had looked quite right. Using a Dremel tool I carved the wound, as
well as several older branch scars, into a uros. The Dremel was also used to carve some taper into the far right hand
trunk to visually increase the taper. I then left the tree to recover from the work.

May 2009

The new pot had come in and after waiting for the two week long thunderstorms to abate, I repotted the tree into it's new
home. The original plan was to slip pot the tree from the grow box into the new pot. About 5 minutes into the job I
realized I had not done a good job of thinking through the repot while building the box. Never staple something into a
box that you intend to slide out later.
I ended up with soil everywhere except in the pot so I decided to just do a regular repotting job and that worked well.
After seeing how the tree responded to the out of season collection three years earlier I was confident that the tree
would not suffer from a late spring repot. I watered it in well and placed it in the shade. The new shoots on the tree wilted
slightly and then recovered nicely.

September 2009

During a 4 day vacation the sprinkler I had watering my trees was tipped over by a deer with the result of me losing
several trees.  I thought this tree would succumb as well.  After putting it in the shade and carefully watering it I managed
to save it although in a much reduced state.  I left all branches and trunks on the tree through the winter in hopes that I
might get new buds to pop on the trunks.  Alas, none of the three damaged trunks threw buds in the spring so I removed

July 2010

In the spring after the removal of the dead trunks, I fed and watered the tree heavily and hoped for advantageous buds
down on the base from which to grow a new trunk, turning the tree into a triple trunk bonsai instead of a twin trunk
slanting style.  I am letting all the foliage grow wild on the new trunk.  After three or four years I hope to have enough
girth on the new trunk that it will start to look like a small trunk instead of a large shoot.