I’m in love. I don’t know why it took me so long to notice him. He’s so beautiful, so mystical, so enchanting, so romantic. He’s probably been trying to catch my attention for years, and I had no eyes for him. Now I do. He’s my Bamboo. What brought him to my attention was strictly pragmatic. I needed him. It all started when I was trying to figure out (just as an exercise, you understand) if there is any place in my back yard where I could sunbathe au naturale without being seen by any neighbors. It’s tricky. A little peek here. A little peek there. You know. Or some of you do, anyway. I finally isolated a small corner near the rose arbor where I figured if I exited in a robe, by the time I got to the arbor, I was safe to disrobe. Again, strictly theoretically. Just in case. Unfortunately that corner spoke up loud and clear as the Yoga Platform corner, so it’s been used up. So I was back to solving the problem of creating a better screen between this property and my next door neighbors, both in their seventies and dear as they can be. But let’s face it. Even though he might get a kick out of public nudity, she definitively would not. OK? When they heard I was interested in taking out the ivy that lines that particular fence and perhaps putting “something taller” in its place they both suddenly displayed enormous smiles on their faces. Handily, they have hated the ivy for years, for it sneaks through the fence and they “have to trim it.” (This is not the kind of thing they would ever volunteer on their own.) So now it’s a deal. The ivy goes out. And something tall must go in.
Inspired, I began to research plants that are used as effective screens and discovered bamboo. A bit more digging revealed, however, that a) bamboo is very pricey and b) it’s far away. It’s simply not that available here. You aren’t going to buy a five gallon bucket of the stuff for $25 bucks and watch it grow.
And of course there is the Running Factor. Would you believe people are filing lawsuits against neighbors who plant bamboo on their common fencelines? I guess it’s understandable. Perplexed, Philip at Philip’s Garden Blog kindly set me on the right path and told me to simply “buy a clumping bamboo.” I didn’t even know there was such a thing! But then I read that while clumpers don’t “go anywhere” to speak of, they can be (even) harder to divide. So I realized a runner might still be in order as long as I could properly contain it, in heavy plastic, metal, concrete, fiberglass, you get the picture. Apparently you cannot put a runner in terra cotta, as it will simply eventually split the pot, possibly at the most inopportune moment. Bam. Your bamboo explodes. Not a pretty picture. This is a mighty plant we are talking about, which I find utterly fascinating!
Contemplating all this I then discovered that Tierra, my local winetasting/art gallery, sells some plants from their lovely courtyard patio, and lo and behold, they had a beautiful very large full running bamboo that “lends itself to container growing” (I looked it up) called Sinobambusa Tootsik, or Chinese Temple Bamboo. You can imagine that called directly to my heart and soul, and so I purchased him straightaway, and he was delivered this week. He’s still not in his proper pot–I’m still shopping– but I do believe he will go into the whiskey barrel just to the right of him, so you will get the idea. This is a work in progress. Here he is! Isn’t he a beauty? I LOVE him!
What? What’s that? The little one in the red pot? Oh, you noticed. Yeah, well, yesterday I happily stumbled upon a clumping one for a really decent price, and there really was nothing to think about. It came home with me. So Tootsik is the Daddy and we have a little baby already. How cute is that?
And good thing! That woman at Friedman Brothers really knew her stuff. Here’s what I found out:
1. I have to make holes in the whiskey barrel. Yes, she knows I can see through the slats, but, hello, it’s a WHISKEY barrel, designed to hold whiskey, which obviously is a liquid. And liquids expand wood. I knew that. But, no, I haven’t thought much about whiskey barrels before, frankly. But I get it. So I have to get out my drill and make holes in the bottom.
2. As if that were not enough, you have to control the roots by putting the whiskey barrel up off the ground, like, with flagstone or bricks. She said when the roots inevitably sneak out, they will be looking for dirt, and if they find none, they will tend to dry up. There’s even a name for it! Air pruning! Who knew? (I know. I know. Half the gardening bloggers I know, but you will have to recall I’m self-taught and intuitive and random, etc. And, I’m also a work in progress, like everything else on planet Earth).
3. In addition I am to put gravel underneath the whiskey barrel to assist with drainage.
4. This is my fav. When the day comes it becomes obvious it has to be divided (and I will post when this day arrives, trust me) I have to get out my non-existent chain saw to divide the roots. I’m not kidding. I’m tellin’ ya’. This plant has a big destiny to have so much power in its dna. I’m so glad I’m going to have it around to learn from!
Further adventures to come!
Posted on April 18th, 2008 by Kathryn
Filed under: Plants