Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Toastmasters Speech: The Wonderful World of Bamboo; One Happy Garden Punk

One Happy Garden Punk

I had a bamboo plant sale this past Saturday and finally met Katie at Garden Punks. Katie ended up buying bambusa multiplex "Alphonse Karr," [pictured] a clumping bamboo that has ornamental beauty and serves as a great privacy hedge. Based on Katie's post, she seems to be one happy Garden Punk with her new bamboo plant. Maybe another "bamboo geek" in the making? We shall see. More on Katie's experience here.

Toastmasters Speech: The Wonderful World of Bamboo

Never fails. I was ready to give my Toastmasters speech today at noon and sure enough, I was called away to another work matter and wasn't able to attend my lunchtime Toastmaster's meeting. Oh well, I'll keep this one in my hip pocket for another day. But, hey, why not share with you all:

"The Wonderful World of Bamboo

Your planting bamboo! Eeek!

Don’t you know that that stuff will take over your yard, your neighbor’s yard?

Bamboo is a misunderstood plant that people fear because they heard a story from long ago or blindly planted it without doing the research necessary.

Or they were misled by a “nursery professional” eager just to offload a plant and make a quick buck.

I own a small backyard nursery and have about 60 types of bamboo plants in my collection.

I often hear horror stories about bamboo, but I am finding that my customers are doing the research and embracing bamboo as a plant with huge potential.

Bamboo, after all, serves many purposes;

It’s beautiful – it comes in many colors, sizes and shapes and brings something special to the garden.

Its functional – they come in both running and clumping species.

Runners are the aggressive version of bamboo that causes fear. If planted in a decorative pot or if you have some space, it can serve as a beautiful addition.

[Demo running graphic]

Runners can fit in a suburban garden; however, a 2 ½ foot deep plastic rhizome barrier is a necessity

Over the past decade, clumping bamboo has been introduced to the U.S and offers a less aggressive alternative. Clumping bamboo grows slower and at a much smaller distance making it easily controllable.

[Demo clumping graphic]

Bamboo has environmental benefits –

A grove of bamboo sequesters 35% more carbon than an equivalent stand of trees.

It’s a great alternative to hardwoods and regenerates quickly, in a matter of years, not decades like a forest.

The fastest culm growth has been clocked at 2 inches an hour in some species.

Bamboo was the only living thing to survive at ground zero of the 1945 Hiroshima atomic blast and its survival allowed for the quick re-greening of Hiroshima .

So how can you become educated about bamboo?
With the increasing popularity of bamboo, there are a lot of resources out there to learn more.
One is the American Bamboo Society, which I am a member of, that publishes scientific journals and a more user friendly magazine for members. They have a couple of public sites:

These sites have pictures, plant information and sources to by bamboo. My business happens to be on this site.

There are also many books that have been published that are great resources.

Also, there are many folks out there, especially through the American Bamboo Society, that are more than willing to answer questions about bamboo.

After doing the research, you’ll find that bamboo will likely serve many purposes.

OK, I leave with a new trick - how to determine a runner from a clumper (not 100% applicable, but is in most cases).

[Demo this - for most bamboos, you can tell a runner by the vertical groove on the culm, for a clumper it is all smooth with no vertical groove]

With a little education, bamboo goes from an “invasive weed” to a functional, beautiful plant that can offer privacy, lend beauty and, dare I say, maybe even help save the planet?

That bit of education is all it takes to get to know and appreciate the Wonderful World of Bamboo."

Have a nice evening!