Thursday, March 6, 2008

National Zoo Faux Bamboo Deer Fencing?

Lets have two pictures in a row without any living plant material! As part of my inservice training, I attended a lecture/walk at the Zoo about their new "Asian Walk", a wonderful few acres in which they display a handful of interesting Asian animals including Giant and Red Pandas in areas approximating their natural environment. The "bamboo" that you see in this picture is mostly metal fencing. I didn't talk with the fabricator, but it looks like they took galvanized pipe and laid welding beads around it at appropriate intervals to approximate the "rings" around bamboo canes, painted them and set them in concrete. Every 6th or 7th or both was painted the yellowish color of dead canes. Small (10"-16") rods were welded towards the top, 5-10 per pipe to represent the branching stems that hold leaves. Admittedly this is a somewhat non-realistic approach, and could not have been inexpensive, but it looked great and could be copied for use as deer fencing since it is 10-12 feet tall. Possibly the sculptural and open nature of the construction would exempt it from regulations that allow fences to be only 6' tall. We all know a 6 foot fence does not stop a determined deer.

Another interesting feature included in this exhibit space was a rock wall made up of loose stones filling galvanized cages, or gabions. The gabions, each approximately 2'x6'x3', were lined up and stacked to makes a wall at least 15' tall and 50' long. They are attempting to grow hostas and epimediums in sphagnum stuffed in the face of the wall with some apparent success though they were dormant now. The concensus among our group of expert horticulturists was that a more thoughtful choice of plant material would make maintenance easier and produce a more interesting effect. Their plant selections were no doubt influenced by the fact that this is an Asian exhibit. I would like to see the same construction planted with lichens, mosses, violets, ferns on a dark site, or conversely in the full sun planted with "shale barren" or Mediterranean plants. No doubt lists of plants for roof gardens would be productive sources of taxa for these sites.

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