I visited Trebah Gardens in Cornwall in South-West England, a sub-tropical paradise near Falmouth with a stunning coastal backdrop of the Helmford River. It is one of the Great Gardens of Cornwall and rated among the 80 finest gardens in the world.
The garden has an interesting collection of bamboos and I therefore wanted to get some photos for the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR). The bamboos in Trebah Garden are grouped together in a specially created maze of paths known as the Bamboozle which zig-zags alongside the small stream that eventually flows into Helford River. There are some 40 different species and cultivars to be found there.
It surprised me to see so many bamboos in an English garden, but the micro-climate in this area is very gentle. The fairly narrow, steep valley runs north-south into Helford River, and rarely experiences frost. The steep slopes protect the plants from severe winds. It was unfortunately raining when I visited Trebah, but this clearly benefits the bamboos as well. They all look very healthy, and there were many new shoots. Bamboos shoots are a delicacy in China, and the local squirrels in Trebah Garden also like to take a bite out of new bamboo shoots. In order to avoid this, the shoots are protected with wire mesh.
Most of the bamboos in Trebah Garden come from China, which is not surprising as the largest number of bamboo species are found there. But there are others in Trebah Garden as well, and I was taken by Thamnocalamus spathiflorus from the Himal Region, which is a clumping bamboo with relatively thin culms.
The Garden has several Phyllostachys species, including a hybrid that was cultivated in Trebah Garden. It has beautiful thin yellow culms. There are also several nice stands of Phyllostachys aurea. Apparently, the English name is fishpole bamboo, so it was appropriate that the bamboos are planted around a small lake. For security reasons, they have positioned a life-ring next to the healthy bamboo clump, as you can see on the following photo.
A different species from SW China is Fargesia robusta, with a tight, non-invasive clumping habit. It is apparently one of the earliest bamboos to break soil in spring and the white culm sheaths contrast beautifully with the dark green canes to give what is often described as a chequerboard effect
The common Moso bamboo from China, Phyllostachys edulis, is also very happy in Trebah Garden, and there is an information plaque about its incredible growth rate. In China, this species can grow up to one metre per day, and can reach heights of 30 metres, but the English climate does not provide for this. According to the information on the board, the growth rate in UK is up to 20cm per day and the maximum height is 6 metres. That is still a lot faster than any tree species that I know of!
This was a nice visit to a beautiful garden and a very interesting discovery of healthy bamboos in the UK. For more information about bamboos in the UK, you can contact the Bamboo Society of Great Britain . They had a meeting in Trebah Gardens last May!