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AU A touch of bamboo

Property Here - Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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Strand-woven bamboo flooring from House of Bamboo.

BAMBOO is one of the fastest-growing plants and has been used in Asia for centuries. Its uptake in Australia has been somewhat slower, preceded by horror stories of plants growing out of control.

But bamboo's beauty, screening capabilities and sustainability are among reasons cited for its upsurge in popularity, both as a plant and in manufactured formats such as fencing, flooring and shade covers.

One of Sydney's main suppliers of bamboo plants, specialist nursery Mr Bamboo at Terrey Hills, has been in business for more than 25 years. The nursery has about 20 species of bamboo for sale in a range of sizes.

Owner Greg Braun has seen demand for the product, which is a type of grass, grow steadily since establishing his business.

The initial battle he faced was to educate people about the difference between the two types of bamboo -- running and clumping: "If you can do that then you've got a market and that was how I started,'' he says.

"I was quickly told by my clients that what they wanted were privacy screens.''

Greg says running bamboo is invasive and he recommends it be grown only in containers or pots, while clumping bamboo has a different stem system.

"The clumping bamboos don't spread using long underground stems -- the next shoot comes directly from the previous shoot,'' he says.

Some of the more popular clumping bamboos include slender weavers and alphonse carr, blue bamboo and stripe stem fern leaf, he says, with slender weavers and alphonse carr often used to hide two-storey buildings. Slender weavers cost from $75 for a 255mm pot containing a half-metre tall plant at Mr Bamboo.

Other bamboo species at Mr Bamboo will screen up to five storeys and the speed at which the plant grows depends on the type and size of the plant when it's purchased.

Greg warns that larger species of clumping bamboo can cause problems with fences and masonry if they are not planted in the right spot. Therefore concrete or other measures should be used to ensure it is contained.

If bamboo does get out of control, Greg advises using a cut-and-paint method with herbicide to eradicate the bamboo.

Bamboo benefits babies

Bamboo isn't only being used on floors and outdoors. Its versatility means it is being incorporated into homewares including furniture, towels, bowls, plates and even baby blankets.

CNP Brands distributes Natures Purest baby blankets with 100 per cent bamboo content. The bamboo is reconstituted to soften its fibres.

"Bamboo in its raw state, if you knitted that, it wouldn't be soft,'' says CNP brands product and compliance business manager Robert Wise.

"You wouldn't find a bamboo origin blanket that was necessarily 100 per cent bamboo, straight out of the rainforest. Natures Purest's strength is in being more or less naturally occurring bres and being sustainable and organic.''

The blankets are available in specialty stores and department stores.

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