Bamboo/Part One


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!

Gardening blessings,
Kathryn xoxoxo

20 Responses to “Bamboo/Part One”

  1. Malakas and Maganda (literally, Strong One and Beautiful One) are the Filipino version of Adam and Eve. They are said to have sprung from a large bamboo tree.

  2. Welcome, Bill! Thank you for visiting. What a lovely mythology. I can only imagine why this plant is so revered. Love, Kathryn

  3. Hi!
    That is a handsome specimin,indeed! I love baby bamboo,too! the red pot is really awsome. it sets off the plant beautifully. Bamboo does like water, but in cool coastal weather it can go without for a bit. If the leaves die from drought, never fear. This plant will come back with new leaves once it has regular water again. Thank you so much for adding my link! Cheers!

  4. It did take a bit of a beating in the week it took to get delivered, but I cut off all the leaves that yellowed and babied it and am spraying it every single morning. I love taking care of it. It’s really interesting. I have some special connection with this species. And you are welcome. Welcome back up north. Kathryn

  5. I too love Bamboos but they are more readily available I think here although also pricey. I suspect the price has something to do with them taking a while to grow and so there is more time involved in prograting them. I have a Black Bamboo which moved house with me but I dont think it will be able to move again as it is so big. I also have a dwarf one whose name I dont know which is growing in a pot. Not only are they great for creating privacy but they also make a nice relaxing noise when there is a wind

  6. Hi, Helen. Welcome! One thing I’m learning here is that folks are putting them in cow troughs. I suppose that would be a bit weighty moving house, however. Black Bamboo sounds wonderful! I will be posting more as I learn, so I will look that one up. Thank you! And, yes, they move beautifully in the wind, part of their charm. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn xox

  7. Firstly, I have to say I truly enjoy your inimitable wit. You always astound me with your use of words. You say everything “in a lady-like way”, of which I can’t pull off one bit. You also have a rather beautiful smile. No, I’m not hitting on you. I’m 51 and married with a grandchild. I love your sense of humor and don’t mind saying so, though.

  8. Brenda, this is so kind of you. Thank you so much! I’m glad you are enjoying the blog! Warmly, Kathryn

  9. He *is* beautiful! What fun!
    I Love bamboo! And, you are too funny! LOL
    Thanks for another educational and entertaining post!

  10. Hi, Antonia! Thank you! M. D. xoxo

  11. I don’t know much about bamboo, Kathryn, but you are quite the DIVA! I read your delightful post to my husband who now thinks I’m wimpy regarding my sunbathing habits. *Big hugs*

  12. LOL! You’ve given me the gift of a big laugh this morning, Joey. Thank you! Kathryn xoxo

  13. Hey Kathryn, great piece on Mr. Bamboo! He truly is an attractive fellow, and now after reading your story, I’m looking around the yard trying to think of places to put some (in containers, of course). Perhaps around the hot-tub, another appropriate place for a privacy-screen. Thanks for the bamboo info… it has certainly piqued my interest (does this make you a Bamboo Pimp??) ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Hi, Marsha, LOL! Well, I am a publicist! Maybe I should expand my field! Books to Bamboo! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Love, K.

  15. You are so funny. I have been reading for some time now and hooked. I faved you quite some time a go but just taking to the time to catch up. I’ve been moving, starting a new job—and gardening. It’s easy to read your style. It flows nicely. Thank you for a nice evening of entertaining stories in your backyard.

  16. Hi, Anna, Thank you so much for your kind comments! Good luck with all the new ventures! Kathryn xox

  17. Kathryn,
    Your sense of humour is great – I got hooked to this post for good ๐Ÿ™‚
    Both bamboos look handsome ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Welcome, Ewa, in Polland! How lovely to have your visit. I’m glad you enjoyed the post today!

    Warmly, Kathryn

  19. Hi Kathryn,
    Can you tell me about Bamboo and fire hazards? I live in Southern California where the California wildfires went through last fall. The house below me burned down. Fortunately the people who owned it had bought it as a “teardown” to use as a building site. Their house caught fire and their landscaping also caught fire and it came up the hill and took out a lot of my perimeter planting too. Now, they have put up story poles that mark the proposed roofline of the house they want to build, and I will be looking down on a huge roof. They are also pushing their driveway up close to the property line leaving them no room to plant much screening of their own.

    I bought a lot of gorgeous fast-growing Oldhamii Timber Bamboo to put along the property line to screen while the slower-growing grove of replacement trees – a blend of many varieties of deciduous and evergreen trees – fills in over the next 8-15 years. The neighbors don’t like the look of bamboo and don’t want me to plant it on the property line (even though they aren’t willing to move their driveway to give them room to do anything on their side of the line).

    The neighbors say two things about the bamboo – it’s a fire hazard and it will lean over their property. My insurance company is going to spray it with Fosomax and we are irrigating it so the fire hazard shouldn’t be an issue, but can you tell me what you know about its growing habit? It looks to me like it grows more or less straight up? Will it in fact lean over and is it messy and likely to drop leaves as the neighbor fears, and if so, is there anything we can do about that?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  20. Hi, Ellen, I don’t know zip about bamboo and fire hazards. I know eucalyptus is a biggie, because of the oil. HOWEVER, my dear, I would personally not be putting up bamboo along any fenceline with contentious neighbors as people are routinely sued, I am told, over bamboo making its way into neighbors’ yards. So I’d say that the firestorm over bamboo is more about its growing habits than it’s flammable qualities. If you insist you will need to put in trenches that contain the roots. I know one shortcut, which is to plant them in metal cow watering troughs, which is actually an excellent idea. But I’m not a bamboo expert. I’m a novice, as I’ve said. And you must consult a professional landscaper on this one. Good luck! Kathryn

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