DESIGNI NG green Panda Sitting
ummer must be here. There has been a panda siting and here is proof. Little Ronan Cristea of Duncan was foraging in grandpa Coulson’s bamboo patch and made the discovery. But get a look at those new shoots! Averaging a foot of growth a day (sometimes two or more) this Phyllostachys Bambusoides, often called Japanese Timber bamboo, rockets out of the ground at alarming rates. This growth is unequalled by any other terrestrial plant. And what an artistic expression with the ‘Samurai’ style flame pattern that the bamboo culm sheaths make in their early development. It is no wonder that the Asian cultures hold this plant in such high regard not just for it’s usefulness, but for it’s constant beauty and variety. Today, Father’s day, we wandered through the 35 varieties in the ‘bamboosery’ to remark and record the variety of colours and culm sheath patterns shown by each and every species. Ronan’s mascot panda, better known as Lin Lin, was equally impressed. From champagne Image David Coulson
colours to deep lavender blues and spotted black sheaths and tips, there was a constant array. This years stable of shoots is now exceeding three inches or 8cm in diameter and expected to reach upwards to 40 feet or 12 meters in height in just a few weeks. It will be four years minimum for the stalks or culms to harden off and be ready for cutting into crafts or structural components. They will fade from their brilliant deep green to take on a golden tinge indicating they are ripe for harvest. In the case of Phyllostachus Nigra or Black Bamboo, the bamboo starts a deep grey green and only becomes black when it has hardened off after a few years, This again indicates it is time for harvest. Harvesting bamboo is like thinning a forest. It provides air and light to penetrate the remaining culms and breed a healthier plant. One really needs to stand in a plant a kilometer across to experience how well kept a forest of bamboo can be. In 100 foot or greater stands in Japan, one suddenly finds themselves in a Hollywood movie shrunk by your parents, you will then realize the inspiration for such films. And a good lesson in plant care and maintenance. Heavy snows however in recent years have caused havoc with some of the crop as the massive stands have little room to fold down from the weight and are sometimes shattered over neighbouring buildings and fences. Sometimes just entangling the culms is a three day process exhausting all life from human limbs. I now find myself
Image David Coulson
tossing the odd harvested stem over the fence for neighbours to use for varieties of use. As long as we can keep them growing on our side of the fence, we’ll likely stay good
Valley Voice Magazine - Your Monthly Guide to Living in the Cowichan Valley
David Coulson is a local certified Built Green design builder. He has a staff of 25 that have built throughout the Island for over 20 years.
For those who love to eat, live, play and shop in the Cowichan Valley.