Berberis First Wiring

This berberis was ready for it’s first wiring. I wanted to give it a first wiring last year but it budded out before I got near it.


I wanted to make a few further decisions about trunk selection and get the basic branch structure going in the right direction. A very brittle tree to work with and covered in tiny thin thorns, painful. This was the result. Early days with this being it’s first sighting of wire but great potential going forward.


This video doesn’t exist

For earlier posts on this tree see: Just acquired  and Berberis Clump Repot

Seen here in 2014

Berberis Clump Repot

I had hoped to get to this Berberis Clump sooner to do a little initial wiring but the tree had other ideas. As it’s been in this big plastic training pot for a few years I decided it was still ok to repot now and make it a little more manageable around the garden. I also wanted to get a closer look at the base to help me make my mind up on a front. For some older posts about it see, HERE, HERE and HERE

This was one option for the front. I’d chatted with Peter Warren about the tree when he was last here. He liked this option but said it would always look like a garden tree. He pointed out another option.

This is his option which I also love. Either would make a great tree. Time for a closer look.

Plenty of fine root in there

I didn’t have a lot of pot options but this one actually fitted the bill ok. Loppers show scale of this big fella.

A few alterations

and a few more…

And this is the final result. An even better base that I thought, still loads to do to make a bonsai out of this but I think it’s a keeper.

Berberbis Bagatelle

I now know the exact name of this Berberis Clump, I found the original label buried in the root mass when I was giving it a clear out a few days ago.

This was it before clearing. I just wanted to remove excess mix from the pot and some of the old garden soil and aerial roots from around the base.



After the clean up I have uncovered about an extra inch worth of base.






Look forward to getting this one into a smaller more manageable pot next year.


Berberis Clump Outing

Time for this berberis clump to come out of the poly tunnel. Going to make a nice tree.


Sunday’s Two to One

Sunday saw another workshop session, this time a Two to One with two of the guys from the Leinster Bonsai Club. It was a busy day with a lot of trees examined and a lot of time spend looking at what makes a good bonsai.

When we got down to work this heavy-trunked raw material Hornbeam got some carving to remove dead stumps and some problem branches. What’s left will make the basic structure of a nice tree. The final trunk line at the apex will be reduced further next year. Left for new to allow buds to pop to see when the best chop point should be.

The material


Some major chop points to be worked.


More pruning wounds.


Some chopped roots also needing work.


Owen at work. Think this was his first time with a makita and he loved it 🙂



and the new front after removed of unwanted branches etc. Tree will be a little shorter, just below those top branches, however after the chop just below that pointed I opted to keep it a little taller to draw sap in the Spring. As more adventurous buds appear it will be reduced by about 3-4 inches.DSC_0933

Rear view of the chops after basic carving.


Owen also brought this little Blue Spruce, picked up for 10 euros and bought for practice. He got some wiring practice out of it at any rate.


As the tree fills out a few more branches will be removed.


Another tree worked on was this beast stump of Berberis stump, a two man lift.  Some adjustments were made to the deadwood and then the young branches were placed at the right angles and movement added. This has to be done at this stage before they harden further,berberis are brittle when they thicken. We were only concerned with the first few inches, after that the tips were pointed upwards to give vigour.

Before work.


We opted for a twink trunk image but to make it convincing we had to removed a significant portion of the second trunk to make it look thinner that the main trunk line.DSC_0914


Some block carving carried out  on the sencond trunk. No point doing any refinement at this stage of the trees journey.


It was a busy day but the guys seemed to enjoy it as can be seen on Owen’s blog HERE.

Berberis Cleanout

My newly acquired Berberis clump got a cleaning out on Saturday. It has grown strongly since being lifted and I wanted to get rid of the congested shoots on the inside and shorten some leggy branches.

This was it before




And after, two options for a front.






Just Acquired – Berberis

Just acquired this Berberis Clump. Ben collected this beauty from a garden and a little deal was struck. I’m really looking forward to playing with this one next year. Bigger than you think, check out the coke tin. Some great bark and trunk movement.








Jamie’s Berberis

Young Jamie had this tree with him last weekend, just dug out from his Gran’s garden I think. We gave it a haircut to get new growth in the right places and got it into a new pot for him. The before image looks rather nice but the amount of foliage for the weight of the trunk was too much. Better to take it back and regrow in a more convincing proportion.

Starting to bud nicely after a week in the tunnel.

Ben’s Berberis Revisited

Friday saw Ben appear with his Berberis. It was repotted in February and has grown strongly since then.

Robert some how managed to get a pass out for the night, he was an unexpected but very welcome guest. I asked him to have a look at the Berberis with Ben and a short time later, with some light wiring, this was the result.

This was Ben’s choice of front but Robert pointed out a few more options. These are still achievable even though we stuck with the original front. This was another angle worth exploring. Some branches would be  moved but I must admit I like this option.

For a while it was a bit like, Paddy Scotsman, Paddy Englishman and Paddy Irishman started t style a tree 🙂

Out of interest, this was it in 2008

For Jamie

Jamie is our Club’s youngest member at 15 years old. He’s also one of my top comment makers here on the blog.

After the last workshop at which he did a lot of repotting, he left most of the trees with me for protection in my tunnel. I thought I would share them here so he can see how they are doing.

This is a raw piece of juniper material gifted to Jamie by Ben. Very generous! This has absolutely bounced in the few weeks that it’s been in the tunnel with a lot of fresh new growth.

This is his Japanese Maple that had a major clear out last year and was repotted in February. Nice new red leaves appearing.

This is a Berberis Stump that Jamie collected himself from a garden. It was a little bigger when he brought it to the workshop but the remaining stump is going to make a nice little tree with some time and proper technique. Jamie has plenty of time to make a great collection of bonsai.