Bamboo reflections

On my recent jaunt about the garden searching out the native plants to share with you in my blog I came across the stand of Bamboo that grows amongst the trees in the tall tree corner.

It must be a small, clumping variety of Bamboo because it has not spread in the twenty four years we have lived here.

The children liked to cut lengths to play with or to make things with when they were young and I think we have used a length or two for short garden stakes. But mostly it simply grows surrounded by native trees and agapanthas.

I decided to cut some branches and play with the warm light of the autumn afternoon.
The breeze stirred the reflections in some very interesting ways outdoors.
Indoors the effects were quite different but pleasing.
As I played with this lovely plant, taking photos and moving about with it I considered how like fingers the leaves are, their grouping like hands, reaching out to help and support from the supple, bending branches that could be arms. Each branch has multiple joints( tiny on this variety) which allow great flexibility and least resistance. Bamboo suggested to me that it was strong and resilient through its bend, bow and balance.
I knew very little about Bamboo before I took the photos but since then I have searched about to find out more and discovered this Chinese Proverb

The taller the bamboo grows, the lower it bends.

This Zen parable

Be like a bamboo
A Zen Master was walking through the forest with one of his students down a narrow trail, along a steep incline. The student lost his footing and slipped, just as he began falling down the hill the student reached out and grabbed a small bamboo tree. The bamboo bent nearly all the way over as the student continued to hold on tightly. He pulled himself up and brushed himself off with the Zen Masters help.
“Did you notice that when you fell, you grabbed a hold of the bamboo and it bent nearly all the way over and still supported you.” The Zen Master asked.
“Yes,” the student replied. The Zen Master gripped the bamboo and pulled the bamboo over.
“Be like the bamboo,” The Zen Master said as he let go of the bamboo and it sprang back to its up-right position. “It is pushed around by the wind and yet it always bounces back and grows upward, toward the sun, enlightenment. Have you ever felt as though you were going to snap. Have you ever felt as though you were at your breaking point, emotionally?”
“Yes,” the student replied.
“Then bend, do not break, such is the way with bamboo. It endures the stress and finds a way to bounce back!” The Zen Master stated. “This is called resilience.”

And this explanation of Bamboo as a symbol:

Bamboo is a Chinese symbol for longevity because of its durability, strength, flexibility and resilience. It survives in the harshest conditions, and seems to endure through all the brutalities mother nature can dish out – still standing tall, and staying green year-round. Its flexibility and adaptability are a lesson to us all that the secret of a long happy life is to go with the flow. Feng Shui practitioners recommend putting bamboo plants in the front of your home to assure long life for all those who dwell there.

By using the contemplative practice of “noticing” and bringing more attention to this plant that is hidden in the garden I have been reminded that so much of what is around us in nature is also within us.


17 thoughts on “Bamboo reflections

  1. kiwiskan

    You’ve had fun playing with those reflections! We have giant bamboo growing here which is a real pain – although we have used some of it to make a fence

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      I have a new appreciation for this plant in the garden. I have also learnt that it does not last long in a vase once picked. Hmmm I imagine your climate would assist bamboo to really go mad especially if it is the “running” variety. Ours seems to be the clumping sort thank goodness. Ivy, Agapanthas and Wandering Willie are our pains….at least you made some use of the giant bamboo ….

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      Thank you Valerie. I suspect that you like Agapanthas and Ivy? In the right locations both are lovely….just not here where they are growing.

      1. valeriedavies

        I know what you mean… I have ivy covering some patches of lawn that needed mowing but had no other use, and purple agapanthus in coppers, plus ordinary aggies holding a bank…
        .but I battle blue convolvulus which spreads madly here, but takes TLC to grow in England… one man’s meat….

  2. Gallivanta

    Isn’t it a wondrous process; noticing where noticing takes us? I thought the bamboo in the vase looked so beautiful. I am sad to know that it did not last long in the vase. The main annoyance in our garden is ivy invading from a neighbour’s fence but I try not to be too annoyed because apparently it does provide a beneficial home for many smaller creatures, and it seems to hold the fence together too.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      I am really enjoying/revelling in the practice of noticing. Hmmm I think one lot of ivy here is holding up a fence so I will adopt a more benevolent attitude to it….:-)

  3. Jo Woolf

    Lovely photos and very true reflections, I think. I have heard that metaphor before, that trees bend in the wind rather than breaking, and that’s how they survive the stress. Thank you, Lyn!

  4. jennadee222

    Great post. I have always held a fascination for bamboo plants and have many in my garden. I too marvel at the beautiful shadows they make on my walls when the sun shines behind the bamboo through my window. Love Jenna 🙂


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