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When I looked back in the blogging calendar, I realised I had left June with barely a single post. It wasn’t intentional and sadly it wasn’t because I was on a month-long break. At the beginning of the month I was ill, towards the end I went on holiday, in the middle, I was occupied with a distraction activity.

Shortly after the large discard pile in front of the shed had disappeared, we had a lovely large open area to think about turning into garden. Unfortunately, there are many other scrappy, rough and wild areas at the back of the garden that also needed sorting out, the large discard pile was just one of them. I didn’t know what to tackle next. There was a second old shed that needed to be torn down, there were the old vegetable beds and a large raised area that contained a mix of compost heap and tree bits.

I tackled the old vegetable beds first, removing the wood I had piled on them to somewhere else, taking out the old wooden frames, digging out the weeds and levelling the whole area with the electric tiller. I then levelled it and sowed some grass seed. This is somewhat of a milestone and may be the very first time (and hopefully the very last) that instead of taking up grass to turn into border, I was taking border and turning it back into grass. I had to have a good sit down and a bit of a drink to get over it.

Currently this sown area is rather bald with a few patches of green. It will take some time for the grass to come back and I may help fill in the gaps by transplanting a few daisies and clover to speed things along.

With the vegetables beds finally gone (they were in a terrible position anyway) I could feel my attention turn.

I’ve written about my attention and how nothing survives its glare. The front cherry and indeed entire border it was in succumbed to it, followed by the patio wall, the old pear tree, the rampant carex and now, like the Eye of Sauron, my attention turned and became fixated on the large bamboo that had been planted as a screen at the back of the garden by a set of past owners.

This inherited Pseudosasa Japonica or Arrow Bamboo was a large, mature specimen comprising six distinct clumps merging into each other, running several meters in a line but also several metres with runners into our garden and into next door. Despite the tall slender canes and graceful leaves rustling in the wind, this bamboo was a monster, sucking the moisture and nutrients from the surrounding soil, blocking out the light to the back of the garden and looking completely out of place. With runners visibly running along the surface and breaking out in the grass, there was no way it could be kept reasonably under control when the area came to be cultivated into border.

Once more, my attention turned, rested on the bamboo and there was only ever going to be one outcome.

Cue many evenings in hot weather with a mattock and loppers first cutting down the stems and then using the mattock to lever the roots out of the ground, sometimes following them into the grass, sometimes replacing the mattock handle. The large area that we had cleared only a short while ago sported another discard pile of bamboo leaves, canes and roots.

Systematically from one end to the other, clump after clump was removed. Most roots were dug out but there were sections that crossed into next door. With the majority of the roots gone, these weaker remaining sections will gradually die off, exhausted by the constant cutting back and mowing.

The plan is to get as much of the bamboo out and keep cutting what grows back. Meanwhile, the whole area will cleared, re-leveled and will stay that way until the bamboo stops coming back. Afterwards, I plan to replace the bamboo with beech and so continue the existing hedge onwards towards the back of the garden. It will also give us a life-time supply of bamboo canes.

I’m glad this bamboo screen has gone, it wasn’t the right place to have this plant, light now comes into parts of the garden that have been in shade for many years and I can sleep better at night, not worrying if the bamboo is going to start appearing in the shed, patio or kitchen. Unfortunately, it does mean that the area we had just cleared, has now become home again to several new piles of rubbish.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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lynngator 12/07/2017 - 8:16 pm

Sunil, I remember that bamboo well and think you did the right thing to remove so many clumps (but what hard work!!) I have read bamboo has a mind of its own and I hope it doesn’t try to make a massive comeback! The back garden does look lovely despite a few piles here and there!!

Sunil 13/07/2017 - 8:55 pm

Hello Lynn, with the bamboo down I’m hoping it will quickly fade out of memory. While it’s a shame to see such a mature stand go, it couldn’t be kept under control. I know I will eventually replace it with something much better so I’m not too guilty.

Susan Maclean 13/07/2017 - 8:08 am

Well first, I hope that you are feeling better. And no mention of where you went on holiday!! I hope you didn’t pass this door……
That was a massive endeavour – I salute you. I only have that sort of problem with bindweed, and that will never disappear, but we each have our own battles to fight. I suspect you surprised yourself with the land gained. It’s not until it’s clear that you truly see the size of it, and certainly you have enough down there for a dance floor!
My problem this summer is buying loads of stuff just before a hot spell. Can’t plant out in the heat poor souls so I had a nursery down near the house. It rained non-stop for 24 hours on Tuesday, so the ground is lovely and wet and can transplant several things now. However, rain does it’s own damage – several lovelies have had to be tied up to canes because they were bashed down – including a huge clump of shasta daisy which is usually such a show at this time of the year. Never mind, there’s always next year!!
PS. could you deliver some bamboo canes please?!!!

Sunil 13/07/2017 - 8:57 pm

Hello Mrs Mac, we didn’t head to the South West, that’s still on the list and so is your garden! The cleared area now had piles on it again. I’m forming a plan to clear the whole of the back area but it’s going to take time and progress feels slow. I’m just so eager to get rid of the rubbish piles that we’ve had for years and turn those areas back into grass or border so I can continue the planting. As for the bamboo canes, they’re too long to fit in the car!

gardeninacity 14/07/2017 - 5:04 pm

“Eye of Sauron” – I like that! Good work on the bamboo, I think you did the right thing. In my opinion it’s a plant that’s impossible to live with. The area it inhabited may be a bit of a eyesore for a while, but in the long run you’ll be able to use it for something much better.

Sunil 21/07/2017 - 9:23 pm

Hello Jason, it really is, nothing survives its glare. The bamboo was systematically taken down. The only trouble is I don’t know what my attention is going to settle on next, but with the demise of the bamboo, it’s sated for now.

Alain 16/07/2017 - 7:51 pm

It looks like a huge amount of work but you can see from the pictures that it will be a big improvement.

Sunil 21/07/2017 - 9:24 pm

Thanks Alain, we’re still trying to dispose of its remains and we have a nice selection of long canes to show for it too. I’m hoping this is just another one of those “jobs that only need to be one once”!

casa mariposa 17/07/2017 - 3:44 am

I love how much brighter that area is now that the bamboo is gone! Wise choice! I also loved the ‘Eye of Sauron’ reference. Funny!

Sunil 21/07/2017 - 9:26 pm

Hello Tammy, it’ll be good when the beech hedge is extended in the bamboo’s place, it will fit in so much better. I have ideas for the general area, but I’m distracted with yet more things at the moment.

Jean 26/07/2017 - 3:24 am

Sunil, Sorry to hear you were ill and hope you are better now. What a big job to get all that bamboo cleared out — and so satisfying to see that part of your property emerge from the shadows.

Sunil 26/07/2017 - 7:25 pm

Hello Jean, I’m glad the majority of the bamboo is out but the job is far from finished. We need to keep on top of the re-growth and get rid of all the roots, leaves and fine somewhere to store all the canes!


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