Three hundred thousand bamboo plants

Labirinto della Masone is an unusual and astonishing place: above all, it is surprising that it was entirely made with bamboo plants. Why this choice?

By Labirinto della Masone

La residenza Ricci, nascosta dai bambù (2004)Labirinto della Masone

The first Chinese bamboo grove was planted in the garden of Franco Maria Ricci's house in Milan. Later, he decided to repeat the experiment in the lands which surrounded his country house in Fontanellato.

Checking the growth of the plants, he noticed how they were at ease: kidding, Ricci argued that it is due to the proximity of a river with a perfectly Chinese name, the River Po. Finally, having learned the extraordinary features of bamboo, he decided that the plant would have been the ideal material for building the labyrinth he was dreaming of.

Corridor inside the Bamboo Labyrinth (2000-2015)Labirinto della Masone

Bamboo is a evergreen plant, so even in winter its foliage remains thick and makes it impossible to look through the "walls" of the labyrinth.

Franco Maria Ricci in his Labyrinth (2015) by Yann MonelLabirinto della Masone

A very fast growth

Gardens in shape of a labyrinth are traditionally made with boxwood. Although it is elegant and flexible, it grows very slowly: this feature was highly incompatible with Franco Maria Ricci's desire to see his long dreamed project completed in a short period of time.

Instead, bamboo – which belongs to the grass family – grows rapidly: some species reach a height of one meter in a single day. Furthermore, it has an exponential propagation: in the early 2000s, just a few thousand bamboos were planted , now they are about 300,000.

The Arcade (2011-2015) by Pier Carlo Bontempi, Franco Maria RicciLabirinto della Masone

Elegant and resistant

The bamboo structure, in its simplicity, is perfect for being in dialogue with the essential elegance of the complex's architecture. Furthermore, it is an extremely resistant plant, to illnesses as well as to adverse weather conditions.

The Labyrinth seen from above (2011-2015) by Franco Maria Ricci, Pier Carlo Bontempi, Davide DuttoLabirinto della Masone

Bamboo, with its "voracious" growth, is also a big consumer of carbon dioxide. It cleans the air and releases large amounts of oxygen: it was calculated that bamboo plants in the labyrinth release oxygen for 95,000 people in a year.

Phyllostachys Viridiglaucescens (2000-2015)Labirinto della Masone

Currently, Labirinto della Masone hosts about twenty different species of bamboo.

Phyllostachys Bissetii (2000-2015)Labirinto della Masone

Phyllostachys Bissetii is the most used bamboo variety in the labyrinth: rustic-looking, it has a soft and dense foliage, perfect to bar the view.

Phyllostachys Viridiglaucescens (2000-2015)Labirinto della Masone

Phyllostachys Viridiglaucescens

Hibanobambusa Tranquillans "Shiroshima" (2000-2015)Labirinto della Masone

Hibanobambusa Tranquillans “Shiroshima”. The leaves of this species, which can reach 3 meters in height, present elegant cream-white and green coloured stripes.

Phyllostachys Viridis Sulfurea (2000-2015)Labirinto della Masone

The giant bamboo “Phyllostachys Viridis Sulfurea” can reach 15 meters in height and has a golden culm with delicate and rare green streaking.

Vista aerea del complesso dal retro della Piramide (2000-2015) by Franco Maria Ricci, Pier Carlo Bontempi, Davide DuttoLabirinto della Masone

“As many gentlemen of the past, I will dedicate myself to the building of a garden. There will be ruins and bamboo, in the shadow of which a great labyrinth, a library and other superfluous things will be born. So, since until now I had Bodoni as master, I will now have the prince of Ligne. If someone asked me why, I would answer in Voltaire's words: Laissez-moi cultiver mon jardin.”

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