The Beauty of Bamboo
Watching the new bamboo shoots emerge in the spring and early summer is a phenomenon unlike any other a gardener is likely to experience. The new shoots emerge from the ground the diameter that the full culm will be, and then grow to their full height in about 60 days. These culms never grow any larger. When conditions are favorable, the bamboo will put up larger shoots, to grow into new and larger culms each spring, until the bamboo reaches its maximum size for the species in those conditions.
New bamboo shoots are unique for each species. All are beautiful, but each has its own distinctive features. They are the bamboo grower's aesthetic equivalent of flowers. But, instead of being superceded by spent flowers, they vanish into the sky to be replaced by new and larger culms. One cannot actually see bamboo grow, but with a growth rate of over 12 inches a day, the bamboo can actually achieve measurable growth while the observer sits nearby having a cup of coffee or tea.
A grove of bamboo need not require a large property. Even a small city lot can have a lovely bamboo grove. Bamboo is often used as a screen to block offensive views or as an accent plant in the garden, but its most magical use is in a small grove. Our late friend, Dan Price, had a small city lot with a lovely grove of Phyllostachys nigra 'Megurochiku' on it. Dan's grove measured only 15 by 20 feet, with a small clearing in the middle. Here he would sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature right in the middle of Seattle, Washington.
copyright: Ned Jaquith 1997
photo copyright: Ned Jaquith 2003
Powdery white new culms on Sinobambusa intermedia.
photo copyright: Noah Bell, 2005
Red branch sheaths found on young canes of Fargesia sp. 'Scabrida'
photo copyright: Noah Bell, 2006
New shoots of Phyllostachys atrovaginata