Bamboo

Bamboo, Ticino, Brissago Islands, Plant

Japanese artists and Chinese have found inspiration in the analysis of the bamboo plant. Hiroshigi, one of the best of the landscape artists of Japan, founder of many of the best-known wood-block prints, has immortalized it in his picture of bamboos in a typhoon. Coolies running down the green hillside; chair-bearers bowing before the wind; long lines of gray rain and the slender dark wind-tossed stems lightly dancing before the gale! He who would see these graceful grasses at their best must visit a mountain grove on a windy spring morning. They whirl and influence like dancers that have abandoned themselves into a frenzied rhythm. Light flashes from each smooth leaf as from a mirror until the hill seems covered with a twinkling sheen of silver.

On these days they have the charm of”attractiveness half-revealed.” Every smooth stem shines as if polished; every leaf is tipped with a globule of water until a passing breeze sends a tiny shower in all directions.

The most awesome thing about bamboo is its way of growth. The new spikes push their way through the clods and look among the old culms like dozens of bayonets, well covered with dark-brown mottled sheaths. No joints are visible at first; nothing but bristling points, aggressive and ready to race with competitors for a place in the sun. Nodes shortly appear and as the stems lengthen the downy sheaths drop off, leaving the smooth green culms covered with white blossom like the blossom of a peach.

Being curious to know precisely how fast the shoots actually grew, I appointed myself when the spikes seemed. Each day I quantified certain ones to find out what progress had been made in twenty-four hours. The favorite stood close to the garden wall. When first measured it had been eleven inches high. Forty-eight hours after it touched the stick at the twenty-seven inch mark. When nine days old it attained a height of seven feet, its average growth daily for six days being more than nine inches. Not until it had attained its full height, two weeks later, did the leaf sheaths appear. At this time it had been at its ugly duckling stage, for the pointed sheaths reminded one of the pinfeathers of young birds. The green leaves shortly burst out, however, and the plant became a soft plume.

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