One of my favorite plants is the Fargesia 'Rufa' bamboo next to the patio. Although it's getting big it's just so beautiful I don't mind brushing against it when squeezing past. When it put on some height this spring I was excited, forgetting that once the culms leaf out fully they'll just bend over, resulting in a splayed out plant.
That's how it's been for a month or two -- a heavy rain once in a while just accentuates the problem -- and this past weekend I decided to gather the central culms and tie them together to give the plant its proper form again. I knew that I'd have to sort of wade into the plant in order to reach everything, so that's what I did. After a few minutes of wrestling deep inside the plant I made a discovery.
That discovery made me scamper out of there and abandon my hopes of tying the culms upright this summer.
What did I find?
I'll answer that with another little story, a story of why I haven't pruned off all of the ratty old leaves from my bird of paradise (Stelitzia reginae) that spent the winter in the garage:
Wasps! They've made a nest in one of the curled leaves.
This is a small nest -- unlike the one that is in the Fargesia.
That's right, there's a bigger nest in the bamboo! I was in there jostling it for a few minutes, so either these wasps are pretty laid back or I was just very lucky.
(I didn't get any photos of the bamboo wasps or nest.)
Paper wasp nests are quite amazing...
...light, waterproof, sturdy. Made from chewed up wood and plant material. Awesome!
So that's two wasp nests -- I mean three! I found a third wasp nest in the garden, in one of the lavenders in the south garden:
This was actually the first nest that I found, discovered a few weeks ago when I was cleaning up and planting some new things here. (Sorry but I wasn't going to reach in and move the lavender branch that was blocking the shot!)
Are these the same species as the ones in the bird of paradise? I don't think so. Some of them have yellow faces, but I don't know if that's a sign of maturity, differences between the sexes, or something else.
(The ones in the bird of paradise might be Polistes annularis)
Note that I took all of these photos at the end of the day when they were all hunkered down for the night.
So what am I going to do about all of these wasps?
I'll leave them alone and they will leave me alone too (they're not aggressive like yellow jackets). They'll be eating caterpillars, beetle larva, flies -- they're in the "beneficial" category. These predators are a necessary part in the web of life that is a healthy garden.
So the bamboo... I'll either have to wait until the wasp nest has been abandoned for the year before tying it up, or try some pruning instead.
I think I'll wait.