A Monster Challenge

I have to make this update short. For two reasons.

The first is this beautiful bamboo:

Isn’t it gorgeous?


Well OK, it was until yesterday. Until yesterday, we were so proud of something growing so beautifully in our garden. So proud, for once, that our black fingers had turned green…

Then yesterday, after a colleague had planted a niggling suspicion in my husband’s mind, we went to the garden center to find out exactly what type of bamboo it is.

The colleague had told my husband scary stories of bamboo taking over the garden and the neighbour’s garden. Of it murdering other plants in gardens of those with green fingers. And of it requiring a digger to come to separate it from the earth it had now taken over.

My husband had gulped. Sweated a little. And had needed a caffeine hit to calm his sudden nervous disposition.

The little voice echoing around in his head kept telling him that we have black and not green fingers. And despite that, our bamboo had been thickening and growing taller and looking generally well.

Plus there was a strange root growing diagonally out of the vegetable patch which he’d discovered belonged to the bamboo.

We went to the garden center, me full of annoying optimism and my man with his glass half empty.

I encouraged, “Our fingers have turned green!” With no real evidence. The pampas grass has been cut but has no green shoots. The marguerite is brown. Every pot of anything we put on the front step as a ‘welcome’ withers and dies.

And just in case you’re not convinced that we’re completely clueless at gardening: last year I planted wild meadow flowers in the little piece of soil we put beside the front door. I placed a rocking bird there to frighten birds away from eating the seed. The great metal thing kept being carried off it’s stand in the wind and ended up being driven over by a neighbour. As at times happens to real birds. The seeds did grow. I couldn’t, in fact, figure out why they grew so tall. It seemed as if they were making their way up to the kitchen window in an attempt at blocking out all daylight.

But I digress.

Our first trip to the garden center yesterday saw us panicking rather more when the garden-know-it-all informed us that, from our description, it could indeed be that we had the garden suffocating variety.

My husband (generally of good humour) asked if we should dig up the beast and put some kind of plastic don’t-let-your-roots-wander-beyond-this-place device in the hole and replant the pretty green bush into it.

The man looked into our inexperienced souls and cracked up. It turns out we’re hilarious. It turns out we could make a concrete hole and that wouldn’t stop the beast. It turns out, this gentleman has insider knowledge of one monstrous bamboo who burst in right through a family bathroom.

Now at this point, I forgot that I’m an optimist and I joined my husband in a state of complete panic. Because we, garden numpties, had planted the house-wrecker right next to the house. And the terrace for that matter.


We drove home. Slightly erratically. With a running commentary from the back seat by an ADHD boy full of ‘good’ ideas.

We returned to the center a few minutes later with a cutting, as suggested by our possible saviour.

I think, there may have been a slight glint in his eye as he identified the branch and delivered the bad news.

We drove to the DIY store in haste and purchased a pick axe and a wheelbarrow. But we couldn’t start digging it up last night because darkness was already approaching and we need to make sure we get every single last bit of root out, according to our hero.

The second reason I have to hurry with this update is: my ADHD son is on new medication. I’m sure it’s just not in his system properly yet. I had to send him outside to burn off some energy as he was somewhat penetrating.

And I’ve just discovered he’s tied a rope to the bamboo in an attempt to begin the excavation…

So, films watched:

  • The guard: brill.
  • 30 Minutes or less: cool.
  • Flypaper: great.
  • Xmen first class: good.

I’ve also helped at AD’s school with the healthy snack. I had to prepare enough food for 70 kids. Apart from the panic over whether it would be enough food, I really enjoyed it. So much so, I’ve agreed to do it again!

I’ve also been floating which I can only recommend. It’s good for your back and skin and makes you feel very well rested. Afterwards, I felt quite energetic for about two weeks!!

And last night, I left my man sweating the bamboo situation out on his own. I took my eldest, Joni to a rock concert, put on locally by a very good cover band. We had a great evening, boogieing the night away. So much so, (I’m a wild dancer ;-)) that I have aching muscles all over this morning.

And now I need to save the garden save the house save the world dig up a monster.

Please take a moment and welcome four new challengers:

Makes Me Wander

Believe Anyway

whyyyjen (who gets the award for putting her list together in the quickest time!!)


Me! Me! Me me me!

51 Replies to “A Monster Challenge”

    1. I’m taking a break because hubby just exploded the wheel on the new wheelbarrow (before even it’s first ride) and the shovel bent. He’s off to get a replacement wheel. And delivering the uprooted monster to the recycle place. He’s taken Mr Hyperactive with him.

      I swear Tilly, the bloody bush was attacking us as we were trying to dig it up. As extra proof it bent our fork and the shovel. It poked Aden in the eye and speared Reinhold under the finger nail. I’m covered from head to toe in mud and red faced. But I need to go back out there to help them look for stray roots when they come back.So I’m staying as I am.

    1. No problem!

      It looked so beautiful, but underneath it was so evil. It’s definitely partially gone under the terrace. We’re still digging…

  1. Firstly welcome to all the new challengers!

    your bamboo. If you just dig it up there will still be the runners that will sprout out everywhere. I got rid o my bamboo by cutting punching holes into the root area and pouring VERY strong weed killer down the holes. Hopefully this will attack the remaining roots. You can then see when the bamboo is dying off. You may need to keep repeating the process. Good luck! I am having the same problem with two mimosa trees at the moment. Hubby drilled hoes into the tree stump and poured neat acid down them. No messing about with these trees…they harm the environment.

    Good luck 🙂

    1. The good news is we only put it in two years ago.

      I didn’t read your comment first, so this is what we’ve done:

      First we tried to trace the runners all around (not saying we’ve got all of them) and we dug each of them out. Then we dug out the beast itself. There are tiny bits of root all over the place in the soil so we plan to try and take as much soil away as possible.

      Problems: after we’d removed it we found another shoot ending around 1.5 meters away from the original bush.
      The thing was not planted 1.5 meters away from the house or the terrace.
      We managed to pull one runner that had gone under the terrace out already. Meaning at least one shoot was already under the concrete.

      What would you recommend we do now? I wish I had read this first. I would have put the weedkiller down first…

      1. Try pouring weedkiller on any further bamboo roots you find, but be careful if they are near other plants. I was told the idea is the bamboo drinks in the weedkiller and gradually kills the plant. It is a drastic method but sometimes needs must. Not much else you can do if you’ve already dug up the mother plant 😦 except keep digging and searching.

      2. Oh no!! The garden centre where we bought ours has now stopped selling the species we have for exactly those kind of reasons. Did you have fish in the pond? Were you able to save it?

    2. ooh Piglet… I might have to rethink my wishes for garden after reading this LOL
      …Murder at the bottom of the garden indeed !!!
      My Father has a willow tree in NZ that he chainsawed as close to ground level as he could, within a year it was towering over a two meter fence and the neighbours were complaining about it blocking the ight (again) … he said he’s too old to try and dig it out so he just chainsaws the beast every six months LOL. It’s been about 5 years now and the tree still hasn’t given up.

      1. We wanted a willow tree. OK. We’re not going to plant a willow tree.

        I’m actually thinking I should start a page: ‘What not to plant in case it takes over your garden’ reading all this.

        I so have no clue about gardening. I’m starting to think I can only screw it up…

  2. Good luck with that bamboo challenge! Maybe you can add “digging up a monster” on your 101 in 1001 challenge list. That’ll be easily crossed off. 🙂

    Thank you for the award! Hahaha!

    1. That’s a good idea. Had I thought of it first…

      People are passing our house with suspicious looks on their faces, from the street it looks like we’re digging a grave!!

  3. I’m surprised the garden centre didn’t advise you about killing the beast before removing. Now you’ll have to keep your eye out for new shoots and kill them as they come up. Weedkiller usually works best through new active growth, which takes it back down to the root system.

    1. Thanks Pseu! No, they didn’t say anything. Only to dig it up and to make sure we get all the routes and runners. Our garden looks like a disaster zone.

      1. It will recover!
        My advice would be not to plan to replant there this season. Wait and see where the runners put up new shoots and systematically zap each and everyone. Next spring look out for them again and repeat if necessary.

        I heard recently that is a plant has shiny leaves and you want to foliar feed it can be worth putting in a very small amount of washing up liquid into the spray so tha the surface tension is reduced…. I wonder if this could help with the effectiveness of the weedkiller too.
        You could always put up a big planter with things in to brighten the area, but I’d sand it on a saucer to stop any shoots of the pampas getting in.

        and I found this
        eradicating bamboo

      2. Thank you so much Pseu! I really appreciate all of this information and the link.

        You’ve mad me nervous with the ‘pampas’ error – we’ve got that in the garden too!!

      3. should read:
        ‘but I’d stand it on a saucer to stop any shoots of the bamboo getting in.’

    1. We had to stop on Saturday night. We ached all over… Then we couldn’t do anything on Sunday as it’s illegal to work here on a Sunday. Then on Monday I had to get a check up at 9:30am with my eye doctor who insisted on putting special drops in my eyes which meant I couldn’t go out in the sunlight for most of the day.
      Today we have a storm and tomorrow we’re travelling down to my nephews for his birthday. I think we’ll not get back to finishing the job off before Thursday. Goodness gracious!!

  4. LOL I always get the job of weeding the family veggie garden, one day (alone) I discovered a strange “weed” and carefully plucked it out of the ground… an hour later I had a small heap of said “weeds”.
    My mother returned and looked in pure horror at the pile… seems I’d just pulled out an entire row of her self seeding beans… I quickly shoved them back into the earth and told her I was sure they might grow again… she said that chances were low since I’d disturbed them but luckily for me most of them sprouted later in the season and all was (more or less) forgiven.

    I have been known to have weeded lovingly around something that looked like it might grow into a little tree… My mother and father didn’t know what it was either but decided we should keep it…. so I kept it watered all summer to keep it alive in the heat until my uncle turned up one day and walking around the garden spied it and explained “oh heck you’ve got xyz (botanical name of sort) it’s begger to get rid of once it takes hold it will destroy your garden”…

    … my mother looked shocked, bent down and yanked it out of the ground saying “oh really? lucky we get it out now then!” and shot me a look that told me to keep my mouth shut about having watered it and weeded around it all summer…

    Green thumbs and gardening knowledge weren’t our forte either!

    COOL about the concert and Good Luck against the murderous Bamboo…:)

    1. I love the stories in your comments!!

      I can’t tell a weed from a flower either. Last year I accidentally planted wild meadow flowers (I blame my crappy German) in the little bit of soil next to the house. They grew, wildly and it looked very odd. My neighbour finally told me that I was growing wild meadow flowers and that half of the patch was actually weeds!! I had no idea and one day I came home from some appointment or other and discovered she’d weeded the whole lot for me. Unfortunately, she moved out a few weeks ago so I no longer have her expertise to fall back on.

      The concert was great. We both really enjoyed it!!

  5. My raspberry plants are growing like your bamboo but I’m not complaining yet because we love raspberries and I’m looking forward to a nice harvest this year. When the raspberries bushes cover my whole planters, leaving no room to grow anything else, I may have a problem…

    1. Oh no! So out for the garden: raspberry bushes, willow, mimosa, bamboo and a friend recently told me RADSHES?!?

      I am thinking, we should just have a lawn…

      1. Raspberries produce delicious fruit in exchange for the space they use, so I’d take that any day and they’re easy to trim back. I’m thinking if you don’t have much of a green thumb and a lot of time to garden, why not having a few plants with minimal maintenance? Put them in spots where everything else has died and they’ll probably survive!

      2. I’m definitely going to consider a raspberry bush after reading your comment. It would be nice fot the children – gathering the fruit too.

  6. Damn Bamboo – we cultivated some in a pot – hoping to plant it outside our fence to screen off an ugly car park to the side of our garden. And it died. Typical!

  7. OMG I always tell people that experience is the best teacher, but bamboo is such a bad experience I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    At least you didn’t do the stupid thing my neighbor did, plant things she told me were shrubs under the power lines. These shrubs are actually American Bay trees which reach 60 feet under ideal conditions. She has since moved to Florida to wreck havoc there. Meanwhile my new neighbor and I fight over the “shrubs” when I get them trimmed. Generally, she who speaks little English, runs out in the yard and scrams, “you’re killing them.” I wish.

    Recently, the power company sent a team out to whack the trees, but they only suceeded in reducing them to 30 feet or so. Good luck with those monsters from hell otherwise known as bamboo. Just remember there’s never only one of them. Dianne

    1. Dianne, I have been through the garden on my hands and knees, searching out roots and new shoots. But I’m still not finished. I have a bad feeling that this job might go on and on. And on.

      My husband has now refused to plant anything more in the garden. He’s really suffering psychologically from the whole experience. I’m pretty worried about the house and the terrace as we planted the damn thing right next to them. Talk about clueless!

      So you’re having a great time with your neighbours then?

      I’m going to remember your warning. Thank you!!

  8. Sorry to hear of your bamboo dilemma. As far as I know most bamboo is very hardy and take very little to help it grow and it does seem to take over a garden where it is planted. I’ve heard it isn’t easy to get rid of but as yours’ is still on the slight side maybe you’ve caught it in time. Do take heart and there are other plants out there that don’t take a green thumb to get them to grow. Good Luck! 🙂

    1. Our garden still looks like a graveyard to be honest. I’m hoping, like you, that we’ve caught it in time. Thank you so much for your uplifting comment.

    1. Thank you!! That looks good! Do you think it would apply here though? The climate being different and all that? Am I showing even more ignorance now?

      1. is your climate hugely different to ours? Maybe a little more extreme in each direction? A Little colder in winter and a little warmer in Summer? (my ignorance in this matter is high)

      2. Temperatures can go as low as -20 in the winter, but are generally around -8 to -10. We often have snow solidly for three to four months of the year. Spring is normally quick. It may last about two weeks and the temperature change from morning to early evening regularly rises by 20 degrees.Summer can be really hot up to 40 degrees. We have a lot of electrical storms in summer where it’s really, really windy and can hail stones as big as tennis balls. (I’ve only seen golf ball sized ones myself). Autumn like spring tends to be quite quick. With large temperature variations from morning until late afternoon.
        In May we have a freak weather couple of days every year where temps dip below zero. We have to wait until it’s been so we can change from winter to summer tyres!!

      3. this sounds challenging. However there must be a similar or eqivilent book on your area? Is there a Horticutural association? If so ask their advice for a basic starters book, perhaps.

        If I were you I’d befriend a person who knows what they are doing (a local garden club may provide that person) and take them to the local botanical gardens / opens gardens/ (whatever is avialable) in a few weeks time, once Spring has got underway a litle more, and identify what plants you like, write them down. Maybe take your camera and snap those you especially like, noting size, shape, spread. Your guide if you found one, can help here. Find out what needs sunshine and what needs shade.

        Next go around your local roads and gardens, and see what plants are thriving in the area… the soil type will infulence your choices, but you won’t go far wrong by planting what others have successfully planted locally.

        It is useful to have an overall ‘grand’ idea of what you are hoping to achieve. A few bigger things, like shrubs, trees, to give structure, perhaps. A few evergreens so it isn’t all ‘dead; looking in the winter. ‘A spot of colour and variety,’ as my art teacher was wont to say.

        Hope that doesn’t sound too daunting, or too bossy 🙂

      4. Wow! A lot of useful ideas!!! Thank you.

        Our house/garden story goes like this:

        We bought the house (new build) 6 years ago. It was a new build but not ‘key ready’ as in often the case here in Germany. People buy their homes that way to save money. That means we had no kitchen (well the the walls were their and the sockets but that was it). The main part of the house had been plastered but the upper and lower floor hadn’t. And the garden was like a building site. Seriously. The first two years we didn’t look at the garden at all mainly because it kept being dug up by the neighbours who were suing the house-builders with regard to pipes that were laid. For access they needed to through our garden. They even dug up our whole terrace the last time.
        Also, we had to work together with the neighbours to build a road/street along the front of our house.


        So, after a LOT of adventures along the way we finally have the inside finished.

        The garden is part way done. We’ve had a digger come and prepare the foundations. We put in a car port and we built a shed. We’ve sewn grass seeds. We’ve planted several things but only a few survived!!! But that includes an apple tree we bought at reduced price.

        Last year a friend gifted me a bush for the garden. It too has survived. We went to the garden center together and we picked it together and then we planted it together.

        After reading your comment I thought that friend would be a good person to ask. Unlike me she knows a lot about gardening. (This is actually the first proper garden I’ve ever had).I’m going to speak to my husband re money and ask her to go to the garden center with me.

        It’s funny we have actually been discussing for weeks now our overall ‘grand’ idea. OK we have of course before ie where the carport should go. Where the shed could go (that meant the digger coming again and digging out a space.

        We’ve been thinking of putting in a pond. But digging the bamboo out meant we realized digging a pond is pretty much impossible. The humus we laid is only 20 – 30cm deep and beneath that is solid clay!! We’d need a really deep pond as we read here we’d have to have fish otherwise we’d be bombarded with mosquitoes.

        We have a kind of plan formed for what we want to do this year. But more in the shape of finally decking or tiling the concrete plate that’s masquerading as a terrace. We also need to put in steps from the driveway to the garden. And we wanted to lay ‘stepping stones’ across the lawn. Then we want to fill the spaces in the garden up some with stones and some by build a kind of wall from concrete flower pots.

        I’m celebrating my 40th this year and planned to do so in the garden! 😉

        I have been wandering through our village a lot lately, looking at plants and garden ideas. When I read your comment I thought ‘what a task we still have ahead of us’ but then I realized we are on our way. In the Easter holidays we sorted out the garden at the front and laid a stone garden which looks nice.

        I was looking out of the window upstairs yesterday and the grass has less grass blades than it does dandelions. Should be spray it before we plant other things, do you think? Would that not kill anything new we planted?

        Thank you so much Pseu. You’ve really given me ideas. I’ll speak to my husband and tell him what you said. I’ll also ask my friend. I could perhaps go for a walk around the village first with her and show her the plants I like. Your evergreen is a good point too. I like the idea of splashes of colour in the garden.

        You’ve really inspired me. And not just in the garden. 😉

  9. Wow! That must be the longest reply I’ve ever had!
    Your project sounds exciting…. though the subsoil of clay could be difficult, you can probably grow acid loving plants (check the pH balance of your soil, or see what others are growing) – If it is acidic you can grow rhodedendrons and azaleas etc, which I can’t here on neutral to alkaline soil.

      1. your garden centre will have a kit for it… but don’t spend your money yet…. read the plants in other’s gardens first 🙂

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