Monday, 1 November 2010

Bamboo loves the rain

When we planted the bamboo I envisaged a grove of bamboo underplanted with heliconias, gingers and all manner of lush tropical growth, maybe a water feature, a winding path, a seat to relax in the shade. So far, we have the bamboo.......
 ....and a thick layer of leaf litter which it turning the ground into a rich organic soil (I hope). One day I will add the other plants or maybe not, maybe we will just leave it as solely bamboo....

This is Chookie Heaven. Can you imagine a world where the mulch is thick and scratchable, where there are shady spots but also a few patches of sun, unlimited bugs and worms all with a pleasant stroll from home? When we are home, this is where the ladies spend most of their day and that is the main reason why nothing has been planted under the bamboo. Freshly planted anything would not stand a chance against the ladies and their quest for bugs.
Even though we haven't added the underplanting yet, this is still one of my favourite areas of the garden. There is such a variety of bamboos available. We have eight different types ranging in both colour and size. They require very little work. The older stems need to be removed from time to time. We use them as garden stakes and throw fertiliser into the centre of the clump to encourange them to stay as a tight clump. Being a giant grass, they like a lot of water, but other wise require little care. Each Spring they send up new shoots, significantly thicker and taller than the year before. When they reach their desired height, leaves appear on the new growth and over time they drop their lower leaves. They drop a huge amount of leaves actually so would be terrible near a pool or a neat expanse of lawn. We need all the compost/mulch we can get, so we love it.
 The new growth on Timor Black (right, and the one Gladys is scratching around above) starts green and turns black as it ages.
 All of our bamboo is clumping (not running). Some form quite tight clumps like the slender weavers bamboo in the top picture and some form quite open clumps like the two below.
This one is called Budha Belly for obvious reasons. It is extremely attractive. The stems are now about 3 inches diameter.

This yellow and green stripey one is called painted bamboo.

Ghost Bamboo has white stems.
Sacred Bali bamboo (on the right) frightened me when it first flowered. I had read that many bamboos die once they flower but it continues to live and flowers each year. 
I'm sure bamboo would not be everyone's "cup of tea" and definitely is not suitable for a small garden but it really does have it'd own special beauty.


  1. I bet Chookie likes the protection the bamboo provides. That and maybe bugs find refuge there also.

  2. I love bamboo. I think it is much maligned. In a novel once I read of a bamboo maze and have dreamed of it ever since. Wish I had enough room to do it.

  3. Oh your post has made me laugh. We've just spent months trying to get rid of our bamboo patch to make way for chickens. My husband planted a non clumping variety of bamboo when he first moved in and it became an invasive jungle! I hope my chickens don't resent me when they arrive!

  4. I love your bamboos and chicken too. They look great. I would have love to grow them if I have a bigger piece of land. Your land must be very fertile with chicken around. They get rid of slugs too, don't they?

  5. Your bamboo looks right at home in your beautiful garden. If I were a chicken, it's where I would hang out! I had bamboo in my garden when I lived in New York and couldn't get rid of it. It was trying very hard to take over. I can't beleive it survived the winters!!

  6. Oh I love the look of bamboo, and the sound when the wind whistles through them! Great permaculture plant, but you are right they do take up some room! you have some wonderful varieties, cant decide on a favourite but the timor black and the buddhas belly are definitley right up there. Oh but then the painted one has always been a favourite too!

  7. Awesome bamboo collection! Love that buddha belly. I see it often in public gardens, and am glad you have identified it today. I would love to add just a bit of bamboo here, though my garden is quite small. Makes for such a magical place!

  8. Veggiegobbler - even with lots of room I would be scared to plant the non-clumping bamboos - You are right. They would take over.
    I couldn't decide on a favourite either - which is why we ended up with such a collection. Yes africanaussie, on a windy day they make a great sound.

  9. Lovely garden and pictures! I wish I lived in a warmer climate so that my bamboo would get to your size. I live in Southern New Jersey, USA, and have 6 gardens for running bamboos. ;)

  10. Hi Missy! Great bamboo photos! By the way, bamboos have been used for ages in the south of Portugal, as ceilings, just beneath the roof tiles. Unfortunately, it's a tradition that, like many others, is fading away... It's a cultural heritage from the Moors that lived here a thousand years ago. And it's always a pleasure to read your comments on my photos.

  11. Missy, the bamboo is fantastic, but, of course, another thing we can't grow here. Your hen loves the garden, doesn't she? So do mine, and yes, they will scratch out just about everything I plant until it matures enough. I have to keep them penned up for a month or so and then they can come out and play. Hard-workers; always turning the mulch over looking for bugs.

    I am so in awe of the husband always wanted to try 'hardy' bamboo here, but I doubt it would ever look as beautiful as yours!

  12. Wow, you have quite a collection of bamboo. Actually I love bamboo but my one clump of bamboo has grown quite big. As I have very limited gardening space, I just don't water them to prevent them from spreading out. It is really a lot of job cutting and prunning my bamboo. However, it does add beauty to my overall garden.

  13. Very nice bamboo on your garden! I want some for mine too someday


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