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Seattle Chinese Garden presents annual Bamboo Festival

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Bamboo is the focus of this weekend's festival, May 17-18, from 10 to 4 at the Seattle Chinese Garden in West Seattle near the South Seattle Community College campus. Both days will feature talks on bamboo gardening including bamboo care, propagating bamboo, and making a bamboo broom. Saturday, in the Chan Classroom, there will even be a presentation on cooking with bamboo. On Sunday, you can watch artists and calligraphers demonstrate their talents at painting both bamboo and peonies.

Specialists will be on hand to answer your bamboo questions. There will also be opportunities to purchase gardening tools and plants, along with peony paintings, scarves from China, and kites.

Ancient Chinese philosophy held that moral character could be read in nature. The bamboo plant was seen as symbolic of the highest moral character because bamboo grows in clumps (and family is very important in Chinese culture); its stem grows in segments which shows a sense of proportion; and in a storm, bamboo will bend and then spring back up, indicating both resiliency and strength.

Bamboo is a particularly important part of the Seattle Chinese Garden because this is a Sichuan style garden and there are 100 different kinds of bamboo in Sichuan province. Visitors can see bamboo in various parts of the garden and on the newly created bamboo paths just behind the also new peony garden made possible by a gift of 400 tree peonies from Louyang, the peony capital of China.

Admission to the festival is free, though donations are appreciated. For directions and a complete schedule of events, visit


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