Archive for December, 2009

Sappy, drizzly weather.

The grove that looked so yellow and exhausted only a month ago is putting on new green. When the wind picks up, the culms, especially the bendy new ones, swirl their manes of foliage and the effect is like a chafed sea surface near a tropical reef: frothy green against the blue drabness of gum and wattle. All quite beautiful.

Moso. Love it.


Quite a few people are linking to this video, as a Christmas highlight. Think I’ll do likewise. I first saw it on the dense but often interesting American Digest.

The kid reminds me of a certain niece of mine in past years. You know who you are.


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Now is the time for some lantana surfing. As the new culms toughen and the older ones get their leaves back, it’s an ideal time to extend the grove by trampling the lantana and rotting timbers. As the new canopy forms in the pioneer area, the lantana will die away, finally leaving a clear forest floor.

This area has been freshly surfed, and will become part of that running and MTB track I’m planning for the long term. It will take a year or two before the ground is clear enough.

One of the pleasures of gaining easier access to the grove lies in observing the different colours produced on the culms by varying sun exposure. In a sheltered southern part that only gets soft morning sun the colours are quite pure.  Here’s a new culm in that area:

And this one is a year old:

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Stats mean a bit but not a lot. Alan Border and Javed Miandad were great batsmen because they defied the West Indies, not because they had good averages. God gives us our IQ to compile statistics…and he gives us our intelligence to doubt them.

This growing season for moso bamboo has been statistically ideal: mostly warm, with a mild winter, and heaps of rain, far above the century average. However, it’s been an El Niño year, and that has to have its effect. The warm winter – following damp, frigid winters in ’07 and ’08 – was a also a drought. Huge autumn falls had been great for rhizome development, and a dry winter isn’t that serious if it’s followed by regular thunderstorms after the spring equinox. Instead of spring storms, however, we were rescued by flooding rains from major fronts. There is, surprisingly, a difference between heavy rain and frequent storms.

Moso bamboo loves the atmosopheric nitrogen that comes with storms, and it’s part of the reason moso thrives in this region. Storms will form in an El Niño year, but they often stay dry, sometimes starting fires. You can’t beat that rich, rust-smelling, claggy air…just before a storm rinses it out as a nitrogenous soup, crashing on hungry new bamboo shoots. It’s the best.

So, this statistically sensational year has only been good, and the lack of spring storms has meant later than usual growth. It’s also been a bit windy through the late spring, instead of blowing hardest in August/September when the culms are still short and protected by the body of the grove. This added a bit more stress overall. Only now are all of my new culms branching and forming little leaves – which is the latest I’ve ever seen it. Still…

…when you think that two months ago these branching culms didn’t even exist…

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