Date(s) - 08/09/2017
Kilmington Village Hall
Kilmington resident GR Davie attracted a large audience to the village hall to hear his talk on the exotic family of bamboos. His aim was to persuade members to put aside their prejudices and learn the truth about this much maligned plant. First introduced by plant hunters from China in 1827, bamboos became prized by Victorian gardeners with large estates. A century later they dropped out of favour. There are two distinct forms of bamboo and it is important to know the difference before introducing them into the garden. The leptomorph has far-spreading rhizome roots which send up shoots at nodes along the length, and is responsible for much of the plant’s bad reputation. The pachymorph is a clump-former, with new shoots appearing close to the parent plant from the tips of rhizomes.
Five myths need to be dispelled. One: bamboo is uncontrollable and spreads everywhere. This is only true if left to its own devices but not so if new shoots are removed from the rhizome when young. It pays to choose the right variety – there are some bamboos which take ten years to grow into a clump less than a metre in diameter. Two: bamboos like to be near water. Not true. Many of them were planted near water for aesthetic reasons and, although they do enjoy damp conditions, they do not need watering once established. Three: bamboos flower and then die. Bamboos rarely flower as they reproduce from the roots. When they do flower they may die down and lie dormant for years, but are not usually dead. The audience was amazed to learn that when conditions are favourable, bamboos of the same variety flower simultaneously all over the world. Four: bamboos are boring – they are all green. The audience was shown specimens and photographs to illustrate that whites and yellows, stripes and margins all abound, and that sizes vary from dwarf to giant. Not boring at all! Five and last: bamboos need a lot of room. Again not so. Some clump-forming varieties can even be grown in sturdy clay pots. After lively questions and answers, five myths were laid to rest. This was an excellent introduction to the world of bamboos, and a thoroughly informative and entertaining talk by a gardener with a passion for his subject.