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Posts Tagged ‘bamboo’

When I dug out the septic access a few weeks ago in preparation for a visit from the honeywagon, I found that the hole had last been filled with loose debris, including rotting wood and bits of foam insulation.

Digging out the septic tank access

Digging out the septic tank access

We were going to have a riser installed to make the tank easily accessible for future pumps – until we priced it out: Adapter ring: $60; two twelve inch risers: $85 EACH; a $50 lid and the labour at $50/hour PLUS the cost of the pumping and disposal – priced separately. This was going to be a $600 plus operation.

Instead, I dug it out – and Miles from Bonniebrook Services (home of the Poo Pirates marine septic service!) helped out when it turned out I hadn’t dug quite far enough. After the pump truck had gone, Cottager and I put our heads together and figured out this home made fix that cost $30 and took about 90 minutes to fabricate and install. Its just a strong wooden box, built to fit, that exactly fills the space between the tank and the gravel courtyard. Yep, that simple.

Fashioning a sturdy box to fill the gap between septic access and courtyard surface

Fashioning a sturdy box to fill the gap between septic access and courtyard surface

Next time I will just rake away the gravel and lift out the box.

Next time I will just rake away the gravel and lift the lid off the box.

The next hole to tackle was one built into the deck where bamboo had been planted long ago and gone out of control. I trimmed the bamboo down, pried away the rotten wood frame and screen it had been growing through, then cut the bamboo down to the ground and carefully applied a lethal dose of herbicide into the open stalks. Sadly, short of taking up our whole deck, there was no other way.

This bamboo has got to go.

This bamboo has got to go.

Then cottager cut some planks to fit the hole. Not a perfect fix, but once I power wash the deck and re-stain it, it will be invisible but still give us access to the space under the deck. I will put a climbing plant of some sort in a large pot in this location. The running bamboo will likely need some further intervention, but this is a start.

A necessary fix. And now I can paint that peeling wall. One thing always leads to another.

A necessary fix. And now I can paint that peeling wall. One thing always leads to another.

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Shrubby bamboo in need of a good trimming

Last year I spent the better part of an afternoon ‘grooming’ my bamboo. This year I went ninja on it and it was done in an hour. As I did it, I came to realize that there are some very good reasons to get this job done early in the season:

1.  Birds love to nest in bamboo. Thin it out before they start to build, or you may lose your opportunity – or their goodwill.

2.  Spiders also love bamboo, but they aren’t too active or plentiful  just yet. I only came across one, and that was enough.

3.   Giving your bamboo a hard trim will reduce over all maintenance. Bamboo sheds leaves all year ’round. By reducing the thatch by 50- 75%, you reduce the amount of on-going clean up.  Target the most disheveled leaf clusters.

4.  The exposed stems of the bamboo are the prettiest part. Shrubby bamboo looks unkempt. 

5.  Once the foliage is thinned out, the wind can move easily in and around the canes. The motion of the leaves, the shadows they cast and the soft rustling sound are all more pleasing.

Mid-way through the job

And with the job all done.

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trimmed-bamboo2.jpgbushy bamboo obscuring viewBushy no more

No, not bondage, but bonding. After writing about my ‘tree in bondage’ I had a surprising number of visits to the Cottager’s Wife site from people searching on ‘Wife Bondage.’  Some people have such interesting hobbies.

My current interest -admittedly a little tame – is in gardening. I took my clippers to the problem bamboo last weekend with great results. Unfortunately, by the time I quit snipping, the light was not ideal for a photo, but you will get the idea. By clearing out a lot of the lower small branches I was able to expose the canes in interesting ways. There is still more thinning required near the tops of the canes, but I am now pretty confident that I can transform this neglected, scruffy mess into a visually pleasing feature – tall and elegant. 

So yes, I am bonding with my bamboo. Deep in the top of the clump pictured, I found a large and amazingly intricate bird’s nest constructed entirely of bamboo leaves. Smart birds: As Janet was kind enough to comment, the leaves do rustle soothingly when the wind blows.

I have even had some thoughts on how to bring the theme of bamboo into the cottage – in fact, right into the closet re-purposing project that I hope to see completed this weekend. I’ll be sure to let you know how (if ?) it turns out.  

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 bamboo-opt-blog.jpgbush-bamboo-opt-blog.jpg

 I did a little guerrilla gardening last weekend; ripping out dessicated fern fronds, blackberry brambles and excessive quantities of Oregon grape. I barely made a dint. Though only a quarter acre, the bio-mass surrounding our little place is astonishing.

Behind us are some very old and parlous alders and birches that will have to come out this year. Beyond them, a half-dozen old firs and cedars tower on the hill side. A thorny thicket worthy of a frightening children’s tale separates us from neighbours to the West.

But it is clear that some years ago, someone loved this garden. They laid out these meandering paths, carefully interspersed flowering shrubs and perennials, built the now-derelict bench positioned in a quiet corner with a view of the sea, and trussed up as-yet-unidentified ornamental trees to contort their limbs into the spectacular shapes I now admire.

This is the sort of garden, I flatter myself, that I can work with. I don’t have much artistic vision, but I have lots of energy for trimming and tidying, and I can see that with some hard work, this garden can be beautiful again. Warmly dressed, with my ratchet clippers holstered on my hip and a shiny red Lee Valley tote tub waiting to be filled, I can imagine this garden’s summer offerings; the warm, damp-earth smells of morning, the cool relief of late afternoon shady corners.

One of the plants I am able to identify in the garden is bamboo. My first thought when I saw it was “That will have to go.”

Bamboo, after all, is invasive. That can’t be good. And it was occupying a spot where I fancied a clematis. 

But now it is my bamboo, and I am feeling a bit protective of it. I have done a bit of reading on the Bamboo World website (http://www.bambooworld.com/index.html) and discovered that there are two kinds of bamboo: Running and Clumping. Each cane is called a ‘culm’ and you can cut them off at any height and that culm will never grow taller, though it may live 10 years.

It appears that we have at least two species, and I am reasonably certain that one of them is a clumping variety called “Gold Stem.” One clump is growing out of a purpose built grate in the deck, while two others bracket a pathway just behind. At the moment, these are shedding leaves and much of the remaining foliage is brown at the ends and a bit raggedy-looking. The other variety is green and healthy looking, but may be a running variant, in which case I am still inclined to remove it. Have a look at the pictures and do please let me know if you can confidently identify either type, or have some thoughts or advice on the subject of bamboo.

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