Bamboo wonder down under

There is something soothing and peaceful about bamboo plants and to wander through a forest of these fascinating plants is an exciting and surreal experience. Hilton Blake shares a visit to Bamboo Down Under in Queensland.

The tranquility of Bamboo Down Under is a world away from the bustling Gold Coast but its retail site is only a short 30-minute drive to Wongawallan at picturesque Tamborine Mountain. The Warwick family has owned and operated Bamboo Down Under on this magnificent site for more than 20 years. Originally used for production it is under development to become the business’s main retail site and a wonderland of all things bamboo. The production side of the business has moved to Mudgeebra, but the established and graceful stands of bamboos remain.

It is certainly of huge benefit to able to see the different species of bamboo plants growing and to see their different colours, textures and habits. Rick Warwick is happy to share his vast knowledge of the planning, planting and growing of bamboos as well as tips on retailing the attributes of bamboos. The information shared was very much about giving an understanding and a confidence in the recommending of bamboos.

Bamboo Calculator

As well as selling plants, the garden centre also offers a range of unusual bamboo products including keyboards, calculator and even a bamboo mouse.

Almost all bamboos are structurally interesting and become striking garden features wherever they are planted. They are also great in pots. Rick spoke about how different varieties have very different attributes that give a range of solutions for landscape and garden applications. A hedging bamboo with foliage to the ground gives great visual privacy but is also a very good sound barrier. There varieties that quickly give privacy and block out the two-storey building next door, while others are a better choice to block a three-storey building and still other tall and fast-growing varieties that can give privacy from even taller neighbours. There are tall narrow varieties for narrow garden areas and ground cover varieties that give a stylish designer look.

Rick explained how there were many myths about all bamboo becoming invasive, taking over gardens and causing structural damage to buildings and foundations. While running bamboo can be invasive, clumping bamboo have a shallow root system and are easily controlled, maintained and managed with most of the work being achieved at ground level without the need for ladders. Running bamboos do require more attention to control but are great in containers and useful in large areas to stabilise the ground and help to control erosion.

Family business

Bamboo Down Under is very much a family business with Rick directing operations, Rick’s wife Lisa involved in the administration and financially side of the business. Daughters Ashleigh and Emma have major roles in the business with Ashleigh manager of the retail site and while Emma oversees sales and new business development.

Bamboo Down Under Family

Bamboo Down Under is a family affair (left to right) Lisa Warwick with daughters Ashleigh and Emma.

The bamboo garden is presented as a series of impressive gardens. Wander the Rainforest Walk, explore the Enchanted Forest, get lost in the Crazy Bamboo Maze, contemplate Meditation Garden and have fun in Bamboo Tunnel. Each area is filled with examples of plantings and shows creative uses of bamboo to establish points of interest, inspiration and provide ideas that solve many ‘how to’ problems for gardeners and landscapers.

The Rainforest Walk finished with a stop in the showroom. Although the current shop is to be replaced with a larger premises, it is filled with fascinating bamboo products such as musical instruments, clothing, homewares and even bamboo computer keyboards and calculators.

A BBQ, some wind down drinks and introductions to some of the valued Bamboo Down Under staff completed this extremely interesting and informative afternoon at Bamboo Down Under. Special thanks to Rick, Lisa, Emma and Ashleigh and the Bamboo Down Under staff for sharing the joys of their bamboo wonderland with us and we look forward to seeing the exciting plans for the future develop as they continue to build  the wonders of Australia’s Ultimate Bamboo Experience.

Footnote

Hilton Blake runs Garden Retail Success and travels Australia advising on marketing and management for garden centres. He can be contacted via his website at www.gardenretailsuccess.com