Ewen's garden

A collection of columns, paintings and photographs about gardening on an offshore island in New Zealand.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Today I prevailed on friends to lend me their pole loppers in an endeavour to do battle with my bamboo. The unfortunate thing is when we bought the property, the boundary between us and the neighbour was planted out with bamboo. This has been a dilemma since we have lived here; the bamboo provides a wonderful screen between us and our immediate neighbours, plus provides great shelter from the westerlies and southwesterlies, on the other hand, it is an invasive pest. The compromise is I try to keep the bamboo within bounds, in one part by the use of some old corrugated iron sunk into the ground to the depth of a metre, this stops the stolons running out into our garden and is only going to last as long as the iron holds out in the soil (not as long as I would like, concrete would have been better). The second thing I try to do in the garden below the decks is to keep the young shoots at bay as soon as they arise, by simply kicking them, as they are easily snapped off. Needless to say I have been less than vigilant with this beast and I am now paying the price! So now it is a case of out with the loppers and a severe chop. This species can easily be kept as a hedge if only kept on top of. Having said this, it would never be a recommended choice for a hedge. There are naturally species of bamboo with a preference for clumping and don’t spread via stolons and without going into these here I would suggest looking up John Isaacson of ‘Oritria Bamboo Nursery’, he is an internationally renowned expert on bamboo and all their idiosyncrasies. Another option is to grow them in containers, just be sure you know the size of the species at maturity! I say this as we had a species at the University of Auckland that grew to the height of a Five floor building, with stems (or trunks) up to 12-15cm in diameter and could grow up to a foot per day! It would have to be added there was a vent from the engineering room where the hot air was expelled out over the base of these giants, was completely surrounded by buildings and I couldn’t help but keep watering it just to see how fast it would grow.

Bamboo will not be the only thing in the garden to come under the chop. One plant at the top of the amputation list is the Illawara flame tree Brachychiton acerifolium. I have mentioned this tree before, on account of its blooms and showy glossy green foliage. The particular specimen in mind grows, largely for its own benefit over our septic field and in consequence grows at one phenomenal rate each year. If I were not to take to it annually for a prune we should soon not be able to see the sun or anything else for that matter from our deck! Fortunately it takes to pruning well and can stand a rather harsh standard of treatment. There are others of its kin on the property but lacking the benefit of the septic field are much more casual in their approach to rampant growth and so have not been subject to the annual lop.

One other tree to be pruned is the pride of Bolivia Tipuana tipu, the long slender water shoots of summer need to be pruned of now and allow new growths to establish before winter, for it will be on these next summers flowers will be bourn.

Happy autumn clean up.


At 7:44 PM, Blogger roybe said...

I sympathise with you trying to keep your bamboo under control. we have a couple of varieties,we have them in large pot's fortunately.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger roybe said...

I sympathise with you trying to keep your bamboo under control. we have a couple of varieties,we have them in large pot's fortunately.

At 8:06 AM, Blogger Manang said...

I am a Filipina and have been browsing for information on how to plant bamboos in my area (where it is plant hardiness zone 4b) because I LOVE THE BAMBOO SHOOTS as stir-fries. I do not like the canned variety, so I am considering planting them. Invasiveness will never be a problem for me because I and my friends (at least 10 families) will just consume the shoots as they start showing. If you know your bamboo's genus (you implied it to be the running type, so it might be the edible one), you might consider tapping into commercial possibilities of this, like supplying to Chinese restaurants, or to Asian stores (as frozen).


Post a Comment

<< Home