Italian gardens: The Bamboo Labyrinth in Fontanellato, Parma
- WTI Magazine #98 Dec 17, 2017
In his property in Fontanellato, Parma, the art publisher and collector Franco Maria Ricci has planted the largest maze in the world, all made with bamboo plants. Its plant has the shape of an 8-pointed star, inspired by Roman mosaics; it occupies about 8 hectares of land and stretches for 3 kilometres; it is made up of more than 120 thousand plants, belonging to 4 species and numerous varieties of bamboo.
The main species utilized for creating the labyrinth is Phyllostachys bissetii, chosen because it is an evergreen and because it remains thick along all the culms, unlike others that undress at the base. To keep it green and thick, however, it must be pruned annually so that the light can penetrate to the base, which otherwise dries. Other species and varieties with culms or colourful and very decorative leaves have been utilized along the way, to create boxes and circles.
In order to prune Phyllostachys bissetii, special machines were built: a tractor of sufficiently small dimensions to be able to move with agility between the paths of the labyrinth; on the upper part, a pruning bar was mounted that can reach 2.5 meters high and cut more than 1.5 meters deep. Then, a lawn trimmer was assembled with a clamp to collect the pruned reeds gradually and take them more easily and quickly out of the Labyrinth.
Phyllostachys bissetii, used for the labyrinth, in some areas grown to the point of creating the effect of a gallery; P. aureosulcata' Spectabilis', P. edulis, Hibano-bambusa tranquillans' Shiroshima' used for the small squares of stop.
In the rest of Fontanellato's estate, about 30 different species and varieties of plants have been planted, including Pleioblastus pumilus, dwarfing dwarf, Pseudosasa japonica, bushy, Shibatea kumasaca, 50-150 cm high, Sasa tsuboiana, 150-200 cm high, and, again, Phyllostachys aureosulcata' Spectabilis', 5 cm high.
Other bamboo have been planted in the rest of the estate, from dwarf to 20-metre-high bamboo.