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The Bamboo Garden
The Bamboo Garden
Last updated:
Bayford Street, Brisbane, Queensland, AU
Climate zone:

Bron(wyn) Elliott Jody Wall karl tuite Richard Larson Valeria Andrews
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The Bamboo Garden

Project Type

Urban, Residential, Demonstration, Educational

Project Summary

Urban residential retrofit and permaculture garden showcasing clumping bamboos, native bushfoods and wildlife habitat.

Project Description

The initial focus of the project was on managing exotic woody "weeds" (e.g. Celtis) and building soil on the dusty, compacted site.  This was done on a shoestring by importing organic matter from a variety of free (i.e. waste) sources including a local arborist who supplied woodchips from weed trees to be used for mulch and as feedstock for larger composting operations.

Chickens were used to prevent nitrogen drawdown caused by woodchip mulch. They also uprooted young Celtis and other undesirables as well as converting kitchen scraps to eggs and manure. Young trees and other plants were protected by squares of old carpet slit on one side, wreaths of Bougainvillea cuttings from an overgrown hedge (long since converted to bonsai), and a variety of other reclaimed materials.

Existing large native trees were interplanted with several species of lilly-pilly, sandpaper fig, citrus, mulberry, banana, grape, passionfruit and other native and cultivated food species.  An ongoing battle with Phytophtora and Armillaria has meant several tree losses in the past (including productive citrus). However, hygiene measures implemented to prevent spreading spores, and encouraging fungal diversity by improving SOM content has seen a decline in these fungi.

Enhancing wildlife habitat is a major priority for the project; and the site is popular with birds, butterflies, nocturnal mammals and children.  Many less common and less commonly noted species have been recorded on the site which, after twelve years without applying chemical pesticides, is a genuine biodiversity hotspot (the children are better off too).

The small early-twentieth-century worker's cottage was partly renovated by the previous owners with new kitchen, roofing iron and polished floors in the public rooms. Ancient synthetic carpeting in the bedrooms (a major respiratory disease risk factor) was immediately removed upon moving in and the floors oiled with Tung Oil (a non-toxic, renewable product) in preference to polyurethane to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) offgassing toxins into the living spaces. Vacuum cleaners have been banned on the premises since 2001, happily replaced with straw-broom/dustpan/brush (old tech) which require no electricity, and a microfibre mop (new tech) which requires no cleaning chemicals.

An early energy-saving investment was in solar hot water (flat-plate collector eventually will be replaced with the more efficient evacuated-tube technology) but solar photovoltaics have so-far been avoided on the grounds of expense and the designer's suspicion that they may actually be an environmental liability (silicon and energy demand)


International Permaculture Day 2013

Join us for a FREE tour around our urban forest garden.

Posted about 11 years ago (0 comments)
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Urban Residential Demonstration Educational
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