The bamboo garden – wordy Wednesday

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I don’t actually grow bamboo.

It’s more of a bamboo cane garden.

I use vast quantities, and it’s just as well I know people who grow their own – who grow lots more than their own, as is the way with bamboo. Many are are used in normal ways: holding up paeonies or irises, marking the position of a yet-to-flower heath orchid so there won’t be another Unfortunate Mowing Incident. But about now the garden takes on a rather ramshackle insane-scaffolding appearance, as though some of Terry Pratchett’s  characters had run amok (I’m sure Ankh-Morpork is built like this).

It’s especially bad in the veg patch – well, until plants grow up and obscure some of the worst excesses.

I know it’s not elegant, but they’re really, really, really necessary – I’ve had whole bean pyramids blown over. In fact, I’ve given up on the whole pyramid thing this year; they take up a lot of room, especially when they collapse.

It’s really the bracing poles that make this inelegant*, like the one in the corner below, supporting the mangetout canes.

Here there are beans on single canes around the edge, generally two to a cane: runner bean Czar, Cherokee Trail of Tears and Cobra. And my broad beans are individually staked, of course.

Then there’s the bean tunnel. This year it looks madder than usual, rather like an inverted boat. I don’t care; it will stay up and that’s what matters.

No mind-altering drugs were involved in the making of this tunnel. We did it on tea alone, which is probably worrying. Tea and lots of string.

It looks better close to. Honestly.

This is for the Cosse Violette and Borlotti beans, and they’re thriving. The rose hedge behind them is giving them some protection, which is just as well. The Borlottis in particular had a traumatic start: they were in the line of fire when the wind hurled an old gate on top of the cold frame.

Which reminds me: the white iris has produced an almost-undamaged flower:

It’s still slightly crumpled.

I admit it, that was a diversion. I’m trying to ignore (or maybe distract myself from) the strawberry cage.

Last year I netted my strawberries for the first time – they’ve never been very good and it didn’t seem worthwhile. I have hundreds of small wild strawbs, and they just do their thing. But I planted a few cultivated ones among them, so I thought I’d give it a go. And it was wonderful – apart from the occasional trapped and panicking blackbird, the netting was a great success. This year the patch is bigger. Old net not big enough. Go buy more net. New net not big enough.

This is the sort of situation that leads to bamboo-cane boats, and this is what we produced.

It’s a bit difficult to see, which is probably just as well. More canes (of course); old net – black – on top and down the front, new net – green – doubled round the sides. Tied to the canes with string, and held together with pegs. Yes, pegs, as in clothes pegs:

At least I’ll be able to get at the strawberries, and liberate any marauding blackbirds. But there might not be any, because the sides are well weighed-down with stones. Evidently all my childhood spent watching Blue Peter** was not wasted. I wonder where I could use a washing-up liquid bottle and some sticky-backed plastic?

* Just the bracing poles. Yeah, right.

** For anyone not brought up in the UK in the last – oh – 500 years or so, a children’s TV programme featuring alarming things to make, misbehaving pets (‘down, Shep!) and occasionally misbehaving presenters.


12 thoughts on “The bamboo garden – wordy Wednesday

  1. Mo

    Haha! I was having Blue Peter thoughts about half way through. I quite like your Bean Boat, and the bracing poles are a great idea.
    We’ve not started our constructions yet, hopefully tomorrow but definately by the weekend.
    Oh! Washing up liquid bottles? On top of the canes 😉

    1. kate Post author

      And I could have covered the washing-up bottles in sticky-back plastic!!

      (I look forward to your take on this after the weekend). Actually, you know what this is? It’s an installation. I shall be submitting the whole lot for the Turner Prize, as a group of artworks smybolising – er… something…

    1. kate Post author

      Hee hee, glad someone is!

      I think it qualifies as eccentric at the moment – but if you want to grow things like beans in a windy seaside location, you either need at 100ft hedge (I’m doing my best) and no view, or half a ton of bamboo. The bans were a bit stunned by last night – coooollldd – but they’ll take off soon.

    1. kate Post author

      Thanks (but it does look a bit mad too)… I am determined not to have anything at all blown over this year!

  2. Hanni

    Oh, I love all your wild bamboo. You have the natural & rustic look going on. 🙂 And the bean tunnel? Awesome sauce.

    I wish I had a bean tunnel.
    My kids wish I had a bean tunnel.
    Maybe next year I will make a bean tunnel.

    1. kate Post author

      Ha ha!!

      (I definitely feel bamboo is best like this – I’ve seen how far it can spread when alive. Er – I think I’ve just undermined my own argument there!)

  3. Laura @ PatioPatch

    Bamboo and string creation is like those scultptures that pop up in show gardens these day. I love it – and it will look wonderful with the green and scarlet as backing to the beds. A creative gardener indeed and so pleased to have found your blog

    1. kate Post author

      Thank you – and now I’m beginning to think I should take my bamboo structures to Chelsea (silver-gilt, at the very least…) We’ve just had the most appalling storm – so bad you couldn’t drive or walk properly – and my bamboos are still upright, so it’s all worth it!

  4. Juliet

    Sorry, I’m a bit late to this – I seem to spend all my time online at the moment frantically trying to catch up with everyone. Those net and clothes-peg structures look eerily familiar – that’s what I did with my lettuces last year to stop the pigeons pecking the tops off them. I also clipped all the brightly coloured clothes pegs I could find all around the sides of the nets to try to stop birds flying into them – goodness knows what the neighbours thought!

    1. kate Post author

      Ho ho! Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one – and now my strawbs are beginning to fruit, I’ve realised how practical it is: dead easy to get into and pick….

      (I know my neighbours think I’m bonkers, but then who isn’t?)


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