The outdoor classroom

19:00, Dec 09 2010

Making a bamboo support for climbing plants: a step-by-step guide with Abbie and Mark Jury

1.If you have access to a stand of giant bamboo, making an obelisk or stylish tepee to act as a frame for climbers such as clematis or runner beans is not difficult. With bamboo's often wayward habits, owners of such stands may be willing to part with a stem or two. It needs to be freshly cut to split easily. Leg 1

2.Cut the bamboo to the required length - 2m to 2.5m is about right. Tie a wire about 25cm from the top, just below a node, to prevent the length from splitting right to the end. Use pliers to secure the wire tightly and trim it off neatly. Leg 2

3.Using a hammer and an old knife as a cutter/wedge, make a cut exactly in the centre of the bottom of the pole. Tapping on alternate sides, work the split up to just below the wire. The first cut is the most difficult, but once started, you can also pull apart the two sides. Lift up one side and start splitting. Then turn it over and split from the other side, alternating so that the bamboo splits evenly. If you keep lifting from one side only, that side will keep getting narrower. Leg 3

4.Repeat the previous step four times in total, so you have eight sections. Our sections are about 3cm wide. The difficult part is splitting through the nodes along the length of bamboo, which can take some strength. Leg 4

5.Use flexible plant material such as grape vines, wisteria or willow to weave between the struts at intervals. Insert a bucket to hold the shape while you do this, along with a temporary tie of baling twine below the bucket. It is the ties that will maintain the splayed shaped and give the climbing plant something to cling to. Leg 5

6.The tepee will need to be secured to stop it from blowing over. We tie the bases to simple bamboo stakes in the ground. You could use longer-lasting pegs, but we usually bring our teepees under cover in winter to prolong their life, so old bamboo stakes as pegs are all we need, since we require them to last for eight months only.


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