Tag Archives: brisbane

Growing bamboo


We’ve been in this house 2 years already and we really should have planted trees in the first week. We get the sun all day – which is lovely in winter as we barely need to turn on heaters during the day, but in summer it is HOT. I don’t go in the backyard for 6 months of the year as there is no shade at all.

Note to self: next time plant trees immediately. In fact, I’ve started growing trees from cuttings now in preparation, even though in reality it’s probably another 3-4 years away. Unless of course we’re insanely rich by then and can afford mature plants! In the meantime I have gone overboard on cuttings of crepe myrtle, smoke bush, and a few others, and have a million seedlings of lilli pilli and maraya due to seeds falling from existing plants.

Originally we had scrappy dracencas growing in 3 tall bunches which didn’t provide much shade or privacy. In true 60s style, the original owners had put in a brick fence breezeway, which I suppose lets the air flow through, but means the whole neigbourhood can see what you’re up to. We’re also on a bit of a slope, so if you’re standing across the road you can see over the 6 foot high fence.

So I decided to grow bamboo, but was put off by spending $60 per plant for 8-10 plants that were only 30cm high. Eventually I stumbled upon a woman selling bamboo plants on Ebay – $130 for 10 plants and pickup from Caboolture or Archefield (which is a nearby suburb for me). These plants are great and will get to about 6m, so not ridiculously high, but tall enough to solve the shade and exposure issues.

I had a fair bit of trouble getting an idea of how fast things grow, so here is my series of photos so others can benefit.

Planting in November 2012 – approx 30cm high (no photo)

bamboo at 4 months

March  2013 – 4 months later – some are almost 2m and others are still around chest height. Most plants are quite bushy with one main stalk going for gold.

June 2013 – 6 months later –  they’ve slowed down for the colder months, but are still growing. All plants have at least one stalk taller than me (172cm) and are bushing out quite nicely down the bottom, and sending up completely new stalks. Since March I have taken out some potted dracencas I had placed along the wall to try for some privacy, and I’ve also tied the bamboo in clumps to the wall.

That’s the snowflake in full bloom in the middle – also a plant that grows really well from cuttings.

bamboo after 6 months growth

bamboo after 6 months growth

new shoot

I also have 2 plants still in pots and they are  only about chest high.


Crafting in groups – brown owls

A few months ago, I attended my first ever brown owls event. They started out with only one or two groups around Oz, but now almost seem to be everywhere!  I’d seen all the articles in various newspapers about how crafting is back, but then I’d been knitting on the train to work for the past 5 years, so you didn’t need to tell me that knitting was IN.

It was a good mix of women – aged from about 20-45 – with about half knowing how to crochet. With the aim of making a dishcloth (nice and easy first project) we were taken through the basics. What was really good about this group was that it seemed that every second or third person around the table knew what they were doing, so were able to help out those who didn’t. From my perspective of already knowing how to crochet, I learned how to teach crocheting by listening to others.

A dishcloth can be easy peasy, or it can be kinda quirky (but still relatively easy). You see the secrets to crochetting are:
1. it’s all just variations of the same stitch
2.  it’s impossible to drop a stitch (like you can in knitting)
3. If you make a mistake, you can just go back without causing any damage

And don’t let being lefthanded be an excuse not to learn – I’m a lefty and I picked it up fairly quickly and there are so many YouTube vids on how to do it lefthanded.

Henna hair dye

I have bored many friends with my search for the henna hair dye that I used to buy in Melbourne, and it continues to this day.

The reasons why I use henna

  • it turns my grey hairs golden (or bright red with redder dyes)
  • it usually costs about $3 a packet and you get 3-4 dyes from that
  • it makes my hair really shiny
  • no chemically smell

My preferred brand is/was Uttam Herbal Henna, and I was able to buy it at the indian grocery store in Malvern for about $2.75 a box. This henna is a greenish colour powder, and  I actually let it soak for 24 hrs beforehand, then left it on my head for about 2 hrs.

Up here in Brisbane, I have found quite a variety of henna dyes, but was led astray by labelling – it said natural brown, but I spent a good 6 weeks with vivid red hair. I should mention that they also had mahogany and apple red colour options available. If you’re interested in the redder henna dyes, these were a few dollars at 7 Hills Spice Store on Marshall Lane, Kenmore, which coincidentally was where as kids we all used to walk to buy lollies when it was just a boring corner store.

These redder hennas are brownish coloured powder and smell slightly like tobacco, but don’t freak out, this is normal. Like most hair henna dyes, make up a paste and apply to clean hair.

At Woolongabba I struck gold – this place has the equivalent of a full height bookcase full of henna hair dyes. The one that dyes brown for me is in this silver packet. The powder is greenish. I just mix it up with hot water to a yoghurty consistency, then leave it for 24 hrs, apply, put a shower cap over the top and wash out 2 hrs later. In Melbourne I would wrap my head in cling wrap to try to harness the heat from my head – the theory that heat helps henna develop better. I’ve also heard of people using a hairdryer to heat their hair as the dye sets.

Coopers Plains, Brisbane

Neha Herbal Mendhi – This is another one I’ve found that dyes brown for me – at Reliance Fresh grocery store on Orange Grove Road, Coopers Plains. I found this one by accident when waiting for takeaway from Lily’s Kitchen one time. This is a jumbo packet – 500g, and can’t quite remember how much it was – $5 or $7, I think. Update for Feb 2014: it was $7.99 yesterday.

Another store for Coopers Plains – Indian Grocery and Spice Store on Boundary Rd – I came across this store on the way back from the train station. There’s not much english on the packet, but it was $3 and probably 200g. It comes as green powder which I make up to a gloopy consistency using hot water. I then leave this to sit overnight. The last photo here is a shot of my hair before dying, so probably about 6-8 weeks after the last time. The colour holds really well, my only problem is all the grey hairs that creep out after a while!


Back story

I should mention that I first started using henna from Lush – where they sold big blocks of it for about $25. I soon found this a big pain, because you have to grate these blocks down before you can add water, then you need to leave them on your hair for 6-8hrs. I used to wrap my head in cling wrap and towels and go to bed with the alarm set for 2am to have the shower to wash out my hair. Too expensive and too much effort, also I found the end result a bit disappointing – the colour was quite weak. I’m not even sure that they sell these anymore.