June 11, 2014
Bamboo is a plant from the grass family (Poacea). Within the bamboo genera there are about 1400 species spread all over the world. Bamboo can be found naturally on every continent but Europe and Antarctica and has evolved over thousands of years to colonize a wide range of climates. This makes bamboo a useful ornamental all over the world from hot tropical areas to colder regions such as Northern China and Europe.
In Eastern Asia bamboo has been cultivated for thousands of years. Manuscripts made out of bamboo dating from the fifth century BC have been found and bamboo was also depicted in numerous paintings, on ceramics as well as described in texts from ancient china. In Japan it was considered as a sacred plant that was and still is used as a barrier against evil in temples and house holds.
As Buddhism emerged in the first century in China and rejected cruelty towards animals and living beings, bamboo shoots became an important source of food for the monks. Many recipes with bamboo shoots can be found and even today bamboo is still used a lot in Chinese and Asian cooking.
In present times bamboo is still used to make furniture and its fiber which has many properties is used to make textiles, furniture, surfboards and more.
If all of the above hasn’t already convinced you that bamboo is an amazing plant here are a few other reasons to plant it in your back yard.
First of all there are a few things to know about bamboo. There are two main types of bamboo. The running bamboo that most people are scared of because of the stories of it going wild and taking over the hole garden, and the clumping bamboo that is sold as “escape proof” bamboo.
The running bamboo is not necessarily as bad as you may think. It has its place and can be a great plant if used properly. Running bamboo is a useful plant when used in a contained space. If you have a paved area that you want to green up then pots planted with running bamboo is fantastic. It will spread in your planters/pots and create an even screen that takes very little ground space. It is fast growing and the high of it can be managed once a year.
If you want to plant you bamboo in the ground then I would highly recommend using the clumping bamboo. These types of bamboos grow in clumps and send out shoots each year from the side of the clumps. Over the years the clumps will widen slowly. When planting clumping bamboo the width of your garden beds must be considered, it is recommended to allow for least 80cm wide.
In Sydney it is highly recommended to irrigate bamboo (especially in pots and planters) in order for it to be healthy, lush, pest and disease free. Bamboo requires reasonably low maintenance. It will look at its best if it is thinned out once a year from its older and dead culms in early summer and is given generous amounts of fertilizer twice a year (mid spring and early autumn).
How to use it?
It can be used a very efficient screen which is its most common use but it can be used for many other reasons. It is a very attractive plant that can give depth to a small garden with is vertical habit. The attractive colors of the culms that may be black, green or yellow with banding can be used as a feature in a garden. Some bamboos do well in shade and can be used in indoor situations; others are very small and can be used as under planting. Bamboo can be an efficient wind break or included in an edible garden to harvest the new shoots which are delicious and nutritious and the culms used to make trellises and stakes.
The other reason bamboo can be a great ally in our cities is that it grows tall like a tree but being in the grass family it does not require council permission for removal as trees do and does not drop branches in storms.
I hope that by now you are convinced about the amazing properties as well as the historical and spiritual significance of bamboo and that you will now look at it in a different way.
For any questions or advice on the care of your bamboo or other plants please feel free to contact me or to post on Tree & Horticulture Creations facebook page.
From French and Australian backgrounds, Narayan is a passionate and enthusiastic horticulturist that is running his own business: Tree & Horticulture Creations.
After spending his formative years with his family living in ashrams in India, Narayan grew up in Nantes on the west coast of France. Passionate about nature and science, he went on to university to study biology, geology and more. His desire for travel and adventure led him to Australia, a country that he knew little about except for its numerous opportunities and the enjoyable lifestyle.
After arriving in Sydney he began studying Horticulture. This gave him the satisfaction of building knowledge in a subject he was passionate about, and after working for others where he honed his skills he was able to open his own business in 2013. Still eager to deepen his understanding of nature, he is currently studying arboriculture.
Tree & Horticulture Creations has flourished, and recent projects the installation of indoor plant features and beer gardens at pubs and café’s including The Oxford Tavern (Petersham), Foresters and the Norfolk (Surry Hills), the Satellite (Newtown). Edible and native gardens are Narayan’s most favored projects. The benefits of growing our own fresh and organic produce in our very own backyard are endless. The unique beauty of native flora is so often overlooked and is too rare a pleasure in city life.
In his spare time Narayan enjoys yoga and meditation, loud music and cooking tasty but high calorie French dishes for his friends.
Connect with Narayan and his business Tree Horticulture Creations here.