The Myrtle demonstration by Olivier Barreau was excellent and thank you again to Alain Hector the President of Zen Bonsai Club for organising the translation into English by Nicolas Baleux who was also an award winner at the Exposition de Bonsai for his Azalee Satsuki Juko. The focus of the demonstration by Olivier was around the initial styling of a piece of collected material otherwise known as Yamadori which he has collected from Italy around 4-5 years ago. He set out styling the tree after deciding on the front and working from the lowest branch position upwards towards where he was going to set the crown of the tree. He needs to allow the lower branches to develop and thicken in diameter though in order to provide the maturity of the branches for the final image and to also have taper through the branches with the largest diameter branch being the lowest and decreasing in size towards to apex of the tree.
During the demonstration he was leaf stripping the leaves from the inner areas of the branches to enable the wire to be applied but to also allow light into the trunk to encourage latent buds to develop plus to keep the growth in the branch tips to aid with branch thickening. Nicolas assisted with this process throughout the demonstration at the same time as translating the discussion into English while Olivier explained the process and was able to also focused on the styling and branch placement following the wiring.
Olivier likes to work each branch and then decide which branches to remove to ensure a satisfactory end style. He lives in the South of France so is able to keep Myrtle out of doors as the climate is warmer and more suited to Myrtle than that of the North of France. He recommends that before you invest in a Bonsai that you consider the environmental conditions you have and can offer a tree and select the tree based on this.
He keeps the Myrtle in a soil mixture of Pumice and Akadama to enable free drainage plus this allows for a level of moisture retention with the Akadama but avoids the issue of water logging as the pumice provides a good structure within the soil mix and is light weight too. He tends not to use a turntable when styling trees as he likes to walk round the tree and work on it from a 360 degree perspective. He advises not to leave the wire on beyond when it initially starts to mark the branches which is in around 6 months after placing the wire and any marks will go out over time as the tree ages and develops. On re-application of the wire avoid following the same route of the initial wire to reduce the marking pattern in the same locations and the type of wire used was that of copper wire during the demonstration.
If you are looking to keep Myrtle in the UK then you will need to keep it in warmer conditions over the winter period ideally in a heated greenhouse or inside where the temperature is warmer but still with good light levels. They grow profusely and can grow very straight shoots but respond well to pruning back hard and push bud readily and have aromatic foliage and strike well from cuttings.
Here are a few images from the demonstration by Olivier.
Here is an update after he completed the work on the Sunday on the Myrtle and thank you to Nicolas Baleux for providing the photographs.