In my never-ending quest to bring the outdoors inside, I can often be found, secateurs in hand, gathering greenery to decorate our home. One of my favourite crops to harvest is our forest of bamboo – planted by our property’s previous owners, we are lucky to have an abundant supply all year round at the bottom of the garden. It runs the length of the neighbours’ wall, providing an oasis of calm for whoever seeks a moment of solitude amongst the trees; where you can listen to the birds and watch the bamboo and eucalyptus swaying gracefully in the wind.
Often mistaken for wood, bamboo is actually the largest member of the grass family. The species of bamboo we know of today evolved from prehistoric grasses almost 30 million years ago, long after the extinction of dinosaurs.
Bamboo is a wonder product, making a name for itself as a sustainable and renewable environmentally friendly resource. When bamboo is harvested, the roots remain and continue to grow new shoots, avoiding the need for replanting and therefore not contributing to deforestation or soil erosion, as can happen in areas where a hardwood forest is cleared, leaving the soil below exposed to the elements. Depending on the species, bamboo can reach full maturity in one to five years, some growing as much as 4ft each day. Being naturally antibacterial, it requires no harmful pesticides and fertilisers during cultivation, the natural composting of its own fallen leaves supplying the only nutrients required. Bamboo also releases over 30% more oxygen into the atmosphere compared to an equivalent mass of trees.
So how can we incorporate this amazingly versatile plant into our households? If you haven’t already noticed, bamboo is popping up all over the place, and is often used as a great alternative to plastic. There are plenty of products to choose from; lunch boxes, camping utensils, phone cases and toothbrushes to name a few. As far as building materials go, its strength and durability make it perfect for many projects. We are all familiar with antique bamboo furniture, currently seeing a resurgence in interiors alongside more contemporary furniture designs. Independent shops stock beautiful, unique homewares, and larger brands have a good selection of products for the kitchen and bathroom as well as bamboo furniture and lighting.
You can never have too many house plants, and being such a great air purifier I recommend you add some bamboo to your household. New processes have made it possible to transform this hard and durable plant into an ultra-soft fabric that rivals luxury textiles such as silk and cashmere, although as with much industrial manufacturing, it is not without environmental problems.
At work I have started incorporating bamboo into my interiors, most recently as a feature in a design for kitchen cupboard doors. I have a number of very different samples, from poles, screens, boards and veneers, ranging from purely decorative use to more robust varieties to suit different performance needs. As a styling tool, bamboo can create dramatic impact at a very affordable price. Last Christmas I used flexible fresh-cut canes to construct a circular leafy frame, woven with winter foliage and decorated with lights and glass baubles that spent the festive season suspended above our dining table. This proved so popular that it remained there until late spring (minus the Christmas decorations – I think I removed them in March!), turning a beautiful golden colour as the foliage dried. When eventually cut down, it only travelled a few paces into the yard to be hung on our garden wall where it remains, a beautiful decoration.
And with the summer holidays in full swing, why not camp out in a bamboo framed yurt for travel escapades or a resting place in the garden? It has been an ambition of mine for quite some time to banish my synthetic tent, or “nylon nasty” so called by my yurt-dwelling camping companions. After all I would rather be an asset to the Dorset landscape than a blot.
Having recently tried and tested a 9ft beauty from local yurt maker Mike Jessop, I can certainly admit there is a calmness that comes over you when relaxing inside such a lovely environment, maybe a nod to those makeshift dens from childhood, to where we always yearn to return.
Bamboo yurt enquiries - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bamboo kitchenware - wastenotwantnotbridport.co.uk
Published in the August 2019 edition of Bridport Times magazine: bridporttimes.co.uk