Here is my radio interview this morning discussing bamboo with "Farmer Fred" Hoffman on his "KFBK Garden Show" on NewsTalk 1530 KFBK in Sacramento, California. I had a great time spreading the good word about bamboo!
My daughters had the week off from school, the result of teacher furloughs (in California) consolidated in one week, so we made the most of it and made a pilgrimage down to Disneyland, The Happiest Place on Earth. Naturally, most 'normal' people would be excited about what else - the rides. I was of course excited about the rides, but my other thrill was marveling at how Disney set the theme or 'feel' of particular areas by using my favorite plant - bamboo. All well done in my opinion, which is what Disney theme parks pride themselves on.
One observation though, the Sacramento Zoo, really does give Disneyland a run for its money when it comes to using bamboo. The best example of using bamboo to set a theme or 'feel,' locally, is at the Red Panda exhibit at the Sacramento Zoo. The Sacramento Zoo does a good job using diverse bamboo varieties to provide interest and texture on the grounds. My only gripe, is that the Sacramento Zoo doesn't label their bamboo, and neither does Disney.
But, I digress. Here is a collection of photos from my trip to Disneyland this past week. Enjoy!
In line for the Pirates of Caribbean ride at Disneyland.
The entrance to Adventureland. One of my favorite areas in Disneyland. I love the tropical feel.
This was on the Jungle Cruise ride in Adventureland in the Disneyland Park. The picture is blurry because the guy driving the boat was going really fast through the ride - thought that ran through my head was "...hey dude, slow down, can't you see I'm trying to get some bamboo photos here!" Of course I got many eye rolls from family members as I snapped away.
This was at the California Adventure Park (adjacent to Disneyland) in Bugs Land, by far the best place to see bamboo. In the background is the Hollywood Tower of Terror, one of the best thrill rides in the California Adventure Park.
I think this is Bambusa textilis. Located in Bugs Land at the Flik's Flyers ride.
Graffiti on bamboo at Bugs Land.
This was also at Bugs Land. Great striping. I believe this is Bambusa etuldoides 'Viridivittata', a clumping bamboo. Not very common in Northern California.
This is a good example of how bamboo can be hedged. This is some type of Phylostachys located in Bugs Land.
Near the entrance to Bugs Land. I believe this is Pseudosasa amabilis 'Tonkin Cane'.
After a long day of walking, going on rides and looking at bamboo, who wouldn't want to have a nice Bamboo Massage. Ironically, this was taken at the hotel we stayed at.
I'll be on Farmer Fred's "KFBK Garden Show" on NewsTalk 1530 KFBK in Sacramento, California tomorrow morning (Sunday) 9 am or so. We'll be talking about bamboo. Hope you can tune in! If you miss the live broadcast, they also have the past shows online via podcasts.
Yesterday, I braved the rain and some hail (tiny Sacramento-sized hail) to finally get my Phylostachys nigra 'Black Bamboo' in my green BILT container. I had these custom made as bamboo containers as they are made with mostly recycled steel and they come in some really unique, cool colors.
The containers are designed and built by Jeffrey Dodd (pictured above). The containers that Jeff builds are usually on a smaller scale, but he was very accommodating and took on my request to build larger custom containers that can hold bamboo. The problem these containers solve is that, unlike a ceramic pot, these containers will never break or crack under the pressure of a woody bamboo rhizome mass. Jeff, like me, is obsessed with plants and is a self-described collector. He began designing plant containers in the early 90's as a student at Cal Berkeley. Jeff also has an appreciation for color and structure and used his skills in metal-working to come up with a beautiful line of plant containers.
Needless to say, I was quite excited when my two metal containers arrived a few weeks ago. So, Saturday I finally got the planting area prepared for the 'Black Bamboo'. Originally, I had two clumping bamboo in the space. One, a Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Midori' grew in a wide 'V' shape and wasn't upright like I expected, so I took it out. The other plant, a Thamnocalamus tesselatus, a South African bamboo, didn't take too well to the sunny spot I had it in, so I also removed it. I never really had a good demonstration of 'Black Bamboo' for my customers to see, so it was logical to use my new rectangle green BILT container as I felt it offered a great color contrast and presents the bamboo plant very well.
I did alot of prepping to make sure that no errant rhizomes escape, so I laid down some 24 inch rhizome barrier down first, then placed some $1 pavers on top. This was especially important since the 'Black Bamboo', a running bamboo, is close to a lot line and don't want it running into my neighbor's property. Probably overkill, but it gives my wife and I a sense of relief.
After some moving the plants around to get that perfect angle and some dirty hands, voila, it's in and it looks great!
So today (Sunday), it was time to finish the job and plant my Semiarundaria yashadake kimmei, a beautiful running bamboo that is yellow with green stripes but gets a beautiful dark deep red-purple on the culms when exposed to the sun. I thought this was a perfect choice for the red square BILT container. Using the same preparation as the day before, it's now sitting happily in its new home.
These containers look modern, stylish and they are very practical. If your interested in learning more about these 'bamboo-sized' containers, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.
Hard work, but I feel a sense of accomplishment and now have some beautiful containers to show off my beautiful bamboo.
A couple of weeks ago, we bought a tumbling composter after our box composter had some critter issues. My wife likes to incorporate fruit and vegetable scraps into the compost pile, but that can lead to some unwanted critters making home in the compost. Last summer, I opened the top of the old composter and a small rat leaped (literally) from the composter to the tall Photinia bushes nearby, a mere four feet. Needless to say, it scared both the rat and me.
So, we went with the fully enclosed and raised tumbling composter. Of course, what I am looking for is some good rich compost to supplement my soil for bamboo and other plants in the garden.
The first chuckle as we assessed the adventure ahead of us was the statement on the large blister pack full of screws, bolts and parts - 'Hardware is actual size." Really....
The composter's brand was Lifetime, no doubt branded to mean it lasts a lifetime, but after today, it felt like a lifetime to put it together. You know your in for it when you have to use a drill, it has instructions in six languages and it says "takes two adults to assemble." Throw in some blood-thirsty mosquitoes and it's a good time!
After a few choice words and a few screws leftover, we constructed the tumbling composter. Rich dark beautiful compost, here we come!
Often when thinking of bamboo in a nicely manicured garden, it's common to associate it with long, exposed vertical culms (canes) topped with nice green, dense foliage. Neat, sleek and clean looking - there is a way to prune bamboo to create this 'classic' bamboo look, called 'Legging up.'
'Legging up' involves pruning thin, weak culms from the plant; and cutting off the branches and leaves from the nodes from the lower three to four feet of the plant. Use a sharp pair of pruning shears to make clean cuts both in thinning culms; and in cutting the branches and leaves from the nodes. 'Legging up' should be done around May for clumping bamboo and September for running bamboo.
It's easy to do and is actually beneficial to the bamboo plant because it opens up the interior to more sunlight and airflow. Further, the loss of old leaves puts more energy back into the root mass to further future culm development and the generation of new, fresh leaves.
Many Sacramento area homes have pools that have a tropical-style landscape. 'Legging up' bamboo in a tropical landscape offers the lush green upper foliage (for privacy) while showing off the beauty of the culms, giving that true 'jungle feel' to any yard.
Bamboo varieties that lend well to 'legging up' include:
Most of the Phylostachys species; 30 feet and taller (includes 'Black Bamboo' and Phylostachys bambusoides 'Castillon')
'Legging up' is an easy pruning technique that lends well to Asian-style and tropical-style gardens. It's good for the plants and shows off the beauty of the culms that would naturally be covered in foliage if untouched (like a bush). It's also a great way to keep your bamboo plant healthy as well. Give it a try and you'll be happy with the results.
Today, I took a longer way to head to my car (headed home) after a meeting at the Capitol Building through Capitol Park. I had heard of a really nice bamboo grove in Capitol Park (Downtown Sacramento) but had never encountered it. Ironically, I had worked in downtown Sacramento for seven years (1998-2005) and had visited the Capitol Building for work several times a week but never encountered this bamboo grove. Now, I go once a month or so and I found it, funny how things happen.
So... walk down 13th and L St. (towards Capitol Park ) towards the bright white Capitol Dome and you'll see this:
For a 'Bamboo Geek' like me it's an exciting time of year. Late Winter/early Spring is the time of year when running bamboo starts shooting brand new culms (canes).
Culms come out and look nothing like their eventual final form. Bright colors, spots, interesting forms all make 'shoot watching' an interesting obsession. If there were a 'plant watching' hobby (like bird watching) staring at fresh bamboo as it emerges from the ground would be top on the list, at least for someone like me (yes, I know - very strange).
So... with great anticipation, I present my predictions for when the new shoots will emerge from the ground here in the Sacramento area. This assumes moderate temperatures like we have had recently prevail; and some moderate precipitation continues as well. Other conditions that can influence shooting are - fertilization and sun exposure, so expectations should be somewhat tempered based on the conditions of your garden. This is a list of some of the more popular running bamboo varieties that I expect to shoot soon:
Phylostachys aurea 'Spectabilis' (there is alot of "Golden Bamboo', a close cousin of 'Spectabilis', growing in the Sacramento area, especially up in Placer County) - April 1 - 8 (pictured above).
Phylostachys nigra 'Black Bamboo' (Sacramentan's love Black Bamboo) - April 15 - 30
Phylostachys nigra 'Leopard-Skin Bamboo' - April 15 - 30 (pictured above).
Hibanobambusa tranquillans 'Shiroshima' - May 15 - 22
If you are a Bamboo Geek, you will enjoy this time of year, Sacramento is a great place to grow bamboo - decent rainfall, lots of sun and plenty of opportunities to use running bamboo (contained is suggested). Be it in a container or planted with a rhizome barrier, keep your eyes open the next few weeks, something may be emerging from the garden floor from a long winter's sleep. Enjoy it, it is quite a sight.
I own a small, part-time bamboo nursery in Rocklin, CA, about 15 minutes east of Sacramento, CA. I have 120 varieties of bamboo in my personal collection most of which are for sale. I attend plant sales and farmers markets throughout the Sacramento area. Our event schedule is posted at www.madmanbamboo.com. I'm happy to answer questions regarding bamboo. Hopefully you'll enjoy this site!