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Feb 2013 – The beauty of bamboo

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Peter Jones is passionate about bamboo. After a chance viewing of a bamboo segment on Burke’s Backyard, the former Army officer set
out to find out as much as he could about this amazing plant, and became captivated by it’s strength, versatility and beauty.

12 years later, his purpose bought property west of Gingin is a thriving forest of Bamboo, where he cultivates approximately 170
different species and varieties.

His business, Western Bamboo, is one of just a handful in Western Australia growing bamboo commercially, and has supplied plants for
public hospitals and universities in Perth, Kerry Stokes’ property in Broome and for gardens as far away as Uganda and Mauritius.
The 195 acres of flat, white sand is a challenging landscape, however Peter has used this to his advantage in proving the resilience of the
plant.

“If it can grow here, it can grow just about anywhere!” says Peter. Indeed the voracity of bamboo is well known, and has given bamboo
a bad rap as a weed. “It annoys me when I hear it said that bamboo is a weed, ” retorts Peter, “after all, what is a weed other than a plant that is growing where someone doesn’t want it to grow? It just needs to be planted more appropriately.”

Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, with a typical growth rate of 3–10 centimetres per day during the growing period
(in the Northern Valleys, that is spring for runners, summer and autumn for clumpers). Growth rates of over 100 cm in 24 hours have
been documented. Harnessing this amazing capacity for growth is the key to making the most of bamboo, which can be used for shade, wind breaks, stock shelter and of course because it looks beautiful in the garden. One of the most common misconceptions about bamboo is the difference between clumping and running bamboo – the latter being the invasive kind which can cause problems if not planted with some
forethought.

As a building material, bamboo is highly sustainable because the plant can be harvested year after year. In Asia, bamboo has been
appreciated for centuries and is used both structurally and for scaffolding in building, as well as for flooring, fencing and furniture
as we do here in Australia.

Peter is hard pressed to cite a favourite variety, however the two clumping species that really stand out for him are Slender Weavers
Bamboo (Bambusa textilis gracilis) and Blue Bamboo (Bambusa chungii). Peter claims bamboo is one of the most versatile plants in the world
and wants to see it utilised more, locally. “I personally believe that there is no plant that can compare to bamboo’s amazing utility and
versatility, both in its myriad of uses and its ability to grow across a wide range of conditions.”