La Bambouseraie—A Dream Come True
BY AWAKE! CORRESPONDENT IN FRANCE
ALMOST 150 years ago in the south of France, Eugène Mazel, an importer of Asian spices, set out to make what would become the largest bamboo nursery in the world, containing nearly 200 varieties of this fast-growing, versatile grass. Until 1855, Mazel’s ambition was blocked by a major obstacle: Bamboo did not grow in Europe.
Attempts to import the grass from Asia proved futile. While bamboo is quite sturdy in its own habitat (certain varieties can withstand temperatures as low as -11 degrees Fahrenheit [-24 degrees Celsius] and can grow at an altitude of up to 16,000 feet [5,000 m]), it was impossible to keep the roots alive during the long journey across continents. With the advent of faster ships, however, bamboo specimens were successfully imported to England in 1827 and, later, to France. Mazel’s dream was one step closer to reality!
Mazel’s next challenge was finding a suitable location for his nursery. In 1855 he purchased an 84-acre estate near Anduze, in the south of France, which benefited from the Mediterranean climate and was blessed with suitable soil. Extensive work was necessary to direct water from a nearby river. But Mazel’s painstaking efforts met with success.
Sadly, by 1890, Mazel was bankrupt and had to sell his precious garden. Happily, though, others carried on where he left off, so that now each year an estimated 350,000 people visit La Bambouseraie—Mazel’s dream come true.
[Picture Credit Line on page 31]
All pictures: La Bambouseraie de Prafrance