Sunday, 1 September 2013

Panda Food for Thought.




I have not forgotten Tian Tian and her plight. As you can see, she is welcome in my garden at any time.

I have seven different types of bamboo growing here, spread around the garden. But, I should add hastily, they are not spreading varieties, but clumpers. They will eventually increase in girth, but only slowly, unlike some types which you need to plant and stand back as they race away.

Bamboos are very special plants, as bizarre in their habits as the Giant Pandas who feast on them.
Like the pandas, they have strange, sometimes self-destructive habits. Some may only flower once every few decades, even once a century, and after flowering they may die. In this way whole forests can be wiped away, and the pandas who need them must travel to a new habitat.
The bamboo in the photograph was grown from seed after a plant I bought flowered and died in its first year with me.Luckily it is easily grown from seed.The specimen above is about fifteen years old and eight feet tall, so a forest can be reborn at a speed which makes it almost possible to watch.

Many of my bamboos came from Jungle Giants, a very interesting nursery which supplies a wealth of information  as well as a wide range of plants.
I think my garden is now mature, like me, and I can simply appreciate what I have seen grow there. With the bamboos there is a lot more to appreciate than just sight. There is wonderful flickering movement and soft noise, like rain falling. They give stature and form to the garden all the year round, and now I also have a constant supply of canes of any size to act as support for other plants. Indeed, I may put up a sign at the gate to say 'Pick Your Own Bamboo Canes'.
I am not using them to their full potential, but in time I may be inclined to build a fence, or a little tea-house for Grand-daughter, or another oriental-type bridge. The possibilities are there.

In this country bamboo is not as appreciated as it is in the Far East, where bamboo groves are an aid to contemplation, symbols of strength and uprightness.
'Strength and uprightness', I think as I potter in my own bamboo grove
Exactly what I need as the arthritis kicks in.
Inspirational.

16 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

A friend of mine in Mauritius is interested in growing all kinds of bamboos. We recommended them to the Bambouserie in France, that's definitely a place to visit if you are ever there, with all kinds of bamboos grown over many years.

Relatively Retiring said...

Jenny: that sounds interesting - it's seeing them over many years that makes it special. I've been all over the place, but never to France. Must go some time.

marigold jam said...

What a lovely post. We had English friends in France who had the invasive type or maybe it was that they didn't cut it back sufficiently but it was like a trifid and began to take over a larger and larger area. Other friends, French this time, were forced to cut down their lovely area of bamboo as it grew too tall to be so close to the boundary - there are strict rules about the height of any plants nearer than 2 metres to a neighbour's boundary. My friend was really sad to see it go but like you they did at least have a lifetime's supply of canes and her husband has made various garden structures using them No lovely whispering sounds now though sadly.

Zhoen said...

Keep meaning to research if they can grow here. Thanks for the reminder.

Jee said...

Think I need the invasive type in the corner that will appear if I ever manage to get rid of the variegated laurel bush then the owners of the huge hedge that ruins our view might take the hint!

pohanginapete said...

It's sometimes hard to remember it's a grass, even more so when I look out my kitchen window right now and see sheep with lambs grazing the paddock — not very panda-like.

Elephant's Child said...

I love your commitment to the sounds of a garden as well as the visual and olfactory delights. And often sit in mine with my eyes closed, listening, appreciating, dreaming.
And Tian Tian would find a physical and emotional haven in your garden.

mm said...

Love this, and how wonderful for you to have it in your garden. Coincidentally Monty Don was praising bamboo on the box yesterday morning during a visit to the gardens of China and he mentioned the Strength and Uprightness bit. I can definitely see the attraction

Relatively Retiring said...

Marigold: yes, some varieties really are very invasive, but they can be contained by various barriers (usually better not to grow them though!).
I wish we had the same height restrictions as in France - it could prevent a great many neighbourhood disputes.
Zhoen: an interesting project. Please give us an update.
Jee: I can give you the information before you plant anything!
P.Pete: grass must be the world's most amazingly diverse plant. Bamboo has so much silica it can blunt the sharpest saw in minutes, so I imagine pandas have super-strong teeth (but possibly sheep do too?).
E.C.: thank you. The only thing I find hard to tolerate out of doors are those wind-chimes!
mm: oh, that's interesting, and I share the attraction to Monty Don!

mm said...

Ha! I meant your attraction to bamboo :-).

Relatively Retiring said...

mm: Really?

Friko said...

I had a clump of black stemmed bamboo for years. Then it got to swamping surrounding plants and I cut the stems to the ground.

And now the damn plant won’t grow at all.

Relatively Retiring said...

Friko: that's what you might call 'tough love'! You could try giving the roots lots of food and lots of water.

JO said...

I had two bamboo plants, inherited when I moved in; one died - suddenly. The other struggled on - it's a bit straggly, but I treasure it as best I can. It's on a bank, so very well-drained soil, but not sheltered from the wine in either direction. I daren't move it - but worry that every winter will be its last.

Relatively Retiring said...

JO: hello, and thank you for commenting. Have a look at Jungle Giants website via the link. Bamboos don't really like well-drained soil, or wind, so yours probably needs as much food and moisture as you can give it. A deep rich mulch of manure would be good. I hope it survives. Once well established they are usually tough.

Relatively Retiring said...

JO: hello, and thank you for commenting. Have a look at Jungle Giants website via the link. Bamboos don't really like well-drained soil, or wind, so yours probably needs as much food and moisture as you can give it. A deep rich mulch of manure would be good. I hope it survives. Once well established they are usually tough.