Friday, 26 April 2013


As I suggested in the last post, the background bamboo in the shot of the magnolia blossoms might lead to a little more information. The photo was taken at the Bambouserie de Prafrance, a wonderful botannical garden just the other side of Anduze featuring 300 different kinds of bamboo as well as a wide variety of other exotic specimens. The garden was first established in 1856 by an amateur botanist, Eugene Mazel, who fell head-over-heels in love with bamboo during his time in Asia, and thus brought back many different samples to his home in Generargues (beside the Gardon river that runs through Anduze).

Bamboo is now grown everywhere in the region and it can be found wild as well as planted alongside gardens (where it can be used as poles for supporting tomatoes, etc). I have three different varieties here at Mas Blanc growing between the house and the stream that I must keep clipped back each year to prevent them getting too tall and blocking our view of the old church across the vineyards.

At the Bambouserie there are giant bamboo varieties several metres high -- enormous, as tall as full-grown poplars -- and accompanying them along the pathways are palm trees as well as giant redwoods and oaks. Altogether a delightful place to stroll of an afternoon, particularly in the summer when the shade afforded by the trees is so welcome.

I took my old friend Stephen for a walk  -- the entire circuit takes about an hour -- a few days ago, hence the earlier magnolia photos. And now ... some bamboo. (I know, you've been anxiously waiting....)
Personally, I am partial to Golden Bamboo
Every few months, the Bambouserie invites artists to spend time in residence being inspired by the gardens and the bamboo itself... and the results are, more often than not, quite wonderful. Interestingly, it seems that visitors can't stop themselves from carving graffitti into those bamboos closest to the paths (the usual initials and occasionally rough images of genitalia): so this artist has taken the idea and done it up right... This is part of an installation of designs and quotations that add a special relevance to the gentle stroll throughout the garden.

It's sad to think that nature speaks and humankind doesn't listen
Let me show you one of the grand avenues, and you can imagine how, when you are strolling through the Bambouserie, you do find yourself in communion with nature... There's a sweet sort of tranquility that comes from the way the gardens are arranged, and a lovely quiet that settles around you as you walk. Except for the sound of birdsong, there is little to disturb deep contemplation of beauty.

You see what I mean? perfect!
One last view of the central part of the Bambouserie, which gives quite a different sort of ambiance and, at this season,  is extraordinarily beautiful because of flowering shrubs and the burgundy leaves of the Japanese maples. Perhaps this scene is too "man-made" for those who like nature in the rough... but nevertheless, the harmonic balance of the elements -- rock, water, tree -- is extremely soothing to the spirit.

Paradise, right here on Earth