Judy, that bark is interesting but underneath it is what's really weird. It's the brightest yellow wood I've ever seen. It looks like the yellow dude from Sin City. Truly bizarre. I'll get a good picture of it the next time I cut one back.
I didn't know it has yellow wood...not surprising now since it is under the Berberidaceae (berberis) family. The brightest yellow wood I've seen is agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata) also from same family.
I've got a Nandina in a pot right now, and had one in another for several years until I gave it away. I've never dug one up and potted it, however, both are/were nursery plants.
They're not the most conventional bonsai material, but I've always thought they were cool to play with, and even if they never become true "bonsai", they still turn out as unique/interesting potted plants.
Nandina domestica make a very interesting bonsai. They have brilliant fall color which starts early and lasts all winter (and sometimes well into the spring and summer).
I've been working on this one since 2009. It started out a a tall and skinny multi-trunked, palm-tree-like potted plant and I have shortened it by at least 2/3, eliminated 3 stems and done a little carving on the stump (more needed there).
Nandina stems tend to be stiff and straight. They wire with great difficulty and bend with great reluctance. I've had this wire on for a year now, and have managed this amount of bend over the months. It will take another year -- at least -- to ensure that the bend stays there.
Modern varieties seem to me to have leaves that are a bit too large; their main advantage is that they are less invasive than the small-leaved original type -- which this one is. After it blooms, I don't leave the berries on the bush after they ripen. The birds scatter them too widely.
Excellent base on your nandina. I did notice that the branches don't seem to want to bend. Perhaps if they are wired when young they would take to the training better. I'm prepared to cut off 2 straight branches on this one come winter. They make up for 1/2 of the tree's foliage though so it'll be a restart. No problem. They grow quickly enough and seem to back bud everywhere.
Brilliant fall colors! Thanks for sharing. Have you noticed the leaves to reduce at all? Also, since they grow with 5 leaves per stem, I've been cutting the furthest 3 off whenever possible to compact the foliage. Any experience with such treatment?