A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Bamboo Redux

A while back I wrote about my bamboo grove. Two weeks ago I clear cut it. On the day I clear cut it, the first new shoot popped through the ground. Today there are dozens of new shoots between eight and twenty inches high all over the clear-cut grove. By mid-June the tallest of them will top out at about 12 feet.

I am still wrestling with the cut poles. I am recycling them into trellises, fences, and plant stakes. Mrs. Claus and I are fond of climbing flowers: clematis, cardinal flowers, datura, sweet peas, morning glories, porcelain berry, climbing roses, and so forth. So a trellis campaign this year will pay many dividends.

Next year I may take the advice of my Chinese-American doctor, from whom I got the original bamboo starts 5 years ago for a grove now 20 feet in circumference. Dr. Lin wants me to call in the local zoo to cut my grove next spring. They have pandas to feed, so she thinks they will do it for free. She might be right.

I am also going to let the grove expand a little. Many bamboos expand aggressively through running rhizomes, and my yellow groove variety is no exception. One way to control it, useful if you are using it as a living privacy screen, is to plant it next to a wide sidewalk or driveway. The rhizomes are limited in expansion by the capacity to throw viable shoots. Such shoots cannot push through concrete or blacktop.

Another way to control it is to simply mow the soft shoots regularly around the edge. This requires your grove to be open on all sides, but it works. In my climate, the first shoots break the ground about mid-April and the shooting cycle lasts until about mid-June. Regular mowing through this period is quite effective. Bamboo is, after all, a grass.

If you want to use it as a living privacy fence on the edge of the property, for which it is very useful, you can buy lengths of impenetrable barrier that you can bury in the ground on both sides of your fence. This will force shooting rhizomes to emerge above ground to conquer the barrier, where they can be regularly trimmed by hand.

As a fence, it is better to let the canes grow over from year to year, without cutting, for total privacy and an impenetrable barrier. The uncut canes will grow as close together as 2-3 inches. As a wall of mature bamboo, in a fence three or four feet wide, nothing short of 20 minutes cutting with a lopping shears would allow anyone on foot to cross it.

The only other alternative would be to drive a car through it at a fairly high rate of speed. It will even baffle any animal larger than a rabbit.

But a fully wild grove is not nearly as beautiful as one which is clear cut every year just before shooting. With maximum sunlight and no competition, the yellow groove shoots grow tall, straight, and elegant, about 6-12 inches apart and 12-15 feet high. This allows them to bend gracefully in the breezes, display their delicately splayed leaves to maximum effect, and carry winter snow magnificently.

Yellow groove also has an interesting quirk. A few canes at random will develop a 120 degree kink about 6-8 inches above ground. After that, the cane grows straight.

As I say, an interesting quirk, kind of like the guy who grows them and is goofy enough to blog about them.


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