Narihiradake’s ‘Bid for Freedom’


Should Amnesty International know about this?

No. Its just a bamboo on the loose in the garden.

We are often asked for the common names of the plants we use and this is a case where that doesn’t help any. Narihiradake?  Maybe its my westerner’s ear, but the latin name, Semiarundinaria fastuosa, at least has a bit of a roll to it! And from the specific, species name, fastuosa, you also get a phonetic sense of what this titan of a bamboo is about.


To me it just sounds like a seriously snooty Italian family from the time of the Medici, even if you didn’t know that fastuosa meant ‘haughty and proud’ in latin.

And ‘haughty and proud’ this bamboo has the right to be. With great, fat, 6 metre canes, it is probably the largest bamboo we can grow outside in this country.

Every one knows that some bamboos can be a mite troublesome, but this one seemed to behave itself. And all was well for many years – the clump stayed relatively contained and clumped up only slowly-it was planted in a fairly hot spot, which is often dry in the summer. But the removal of a neighbouring shrub and my decision to replant with black bamboos changed everything. You see, I added fortified compost to the planting holes. I watered generously in dry spells until my new black bamboos got their toes down. I fed and composted them heavily to get them going. Well, they have, but so has the fastuosa, as I call it. Sensing an opportunity, it is just legging it through the black bamboos: ‘Me too – I’ll have some of that!’


But, it does not know that I have a cunning plan.

It may think this is a bid for freedom, but it is actually a long march into servitude.

I have somewhere else that I need the fastuosa. And in the pressure of things it was only the sheer grind of hacking into the established clump which stopped me. It has played into my hands. Now it will be easy to lift this escapee and subdivide it. This skein (even scion possibly!) of material will have the vigour of youth and transplant really well. These offsets I will plant, once again, in difficult, testing terrain. But this time I will not water and feed nearby.

And if the senior member of The Family tries it again I will harvest it again.

I have the measure of it.

Thus are the ‘haughty and proud’ humbled!