Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Giving my bamboo plant a 'haircut...

I have a very beautiful and mature Bambusa multiplex riviereorum 'Chinese Goddess' planted in my front yard. 'Chinese Goddess' is a short (5-6 foot), full sun clumping bamboo with tiny leaves and a graceful weeping habit.  This 'Chinese Goddess' gets lots of irrigation and rainwater runoff and doesn't seem to be fazed by soggy conditions and is flourishing, with multiple culms and a deep green leaf color.

With the weeping habit, it does tend to weep over our front lawn and the neighbor's lawn.  Its not a huge deal, but it is a hassle to mow the lawn with all the culms weeping in the way.  Plus, I pride myself at being a good neighbor and want to make sure the 'Chinese Goddess' bamboo doesn't wear out her welcome.

So, it was time for a haircut!

Before the 'haircut.'

Bamboo responds nicely to regular pruning and cleaning out of dead culms, so this 'haircut' will do the plant some good.  Trusty Sawzall, prybar and shovel in hand, I went to work...

The funny thing about clumping bamboo especially is how 'clumped' together the plant can get, so much so, that it forms a woody root mass in the ground.  This is where the Sawzall with a sharp blade comes in handy, making easy work of it, compared to hand sawing the thick woody rhizome root mass.

The woody root mass of the 'Chinese Goddess.'

After a couple of hours and a few propagated plants later, the 'haircut' of the 'Chinese Goddess' bamboo was complete.  This isn't the first time I have done this with this plant.  I usually have to give it a 'haircut' every couple of years.

The after shot. Chinese Goddess with her 'new hair do.'

Just waiting at this point to see which plants I propagated will stabilize and take hold.  So far, most look really good.

This maintenance of the 'Chinese Goddess' bamboo plant is important for the plant's long-term health and appearance.  I know I would never want to give a person a haircut (that would be scary), but I know I can give a pretty decent haircut to a bamboo plant.


Mad Man Bamboo - Rocklin, CA
Twitter: @madmanbamboo

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bamboo sightings in Midtown Sacramento...

On a whim, I had a rare chance to go to Midtown Sacramento on a Saturday afternoon.  Usually, I have bamboo appointments in the afternoon, but today the bamboo appointments were in the morning.  We went to Midtown Sacramento about a month ago on a Sunday and discovered Lumens through a window.  They were closed on Sundays, but it was so interesting, we vowed someday to visit it when it was open.

Today was the day.  We made the trek from Rocklin to Midtown Sacramento, went to Lumens and it was very worth the trip. After looking around, we wondered what was next.  We travelled up J Street from 21st up to 26th, to see what else we could find.

Oh boy! First, its what I would consider an artists heaven with some art supply stores and some really unique shops.  Along the way, I spotted some great use of bamboo at some Midtown businesses.

Here is what I found:

Beautiful planting of Phylostachys nigra 'Black Bamboo' in a closed container outside a Midtown business.

A view of how extensive the panting of 'Black Bamboo' was.  This was a good demonstration of how well bamboo can be topped to meet any height specification.  This planting was well groomed.

This was in front of a really neat business in Midtown Sacramento, Ladybug, Ladybug.  Some really unique gifts and some really funny cards and knick knacks.  Also had some fun kids toys.  In front of Ladybug, Ladybug were two nice plantings of Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr.'

Midtown Sacramento is truly a great place to visit.  Yeah, it is a distance from suburban Rocklin, but we enjoy making the trip there, always seems to be some new discovery with every trip.


Mad Man Bamboo - Rocklin, CA
(916) 300-6335
Mad Man Bamboo on Facebook
Twitter: @madmanbamboo

Friday, July 22, 2011

A gardeners view of the California State Fair

Most 'normal' people that attend fairs are usually there for a variety of reasons - some greasy fair food, jump on some rides, check out the displays or go see a concert.  We are fortunate in Rocklin to be within a half hour drive of the California State Fair and have taken our kids to the California State Fair the past couple of years.

So, there are definitely parts of the California State Fair I appreciate the most - I am a sucker for calorie-laden, 'bad-for-you' fair food and of course anything resembling plants or some gardening inspiration.  Here are some of the sights, smells and tastes from today's annual pilgrimage to the California State Fair:

Nope, not bamboo (I know, you are shocked).  Isn't this a beautiful display?  I've never seen a corn plant look so perfect.

I was amazed by the number of butterflies by the Farm exhibit.

A perfect example of Bambusa oldhamii 'Giant Clumping Timber Bamboo'.  I actually sought out this photo as a I remember it from last year.  Bambusa oldhamii 'Giant Clumping Timber Bamboo' is ideal for Sacramento's climate.

Beautiful example of orchids from the Sacramento Orchid Society.  This was in the greenhouse display near the fish exhibit.

Couldn't grow one to save my life, but I do love orchids.

 The sign says, 'You can grow Orchids.' Ironically enough.

Leafy greens grown with hydroponics.

Bell Peppers growing in pure perlite.

The 'Garden in a Wheelbarrow' entries.

A 'snack.'

Nice choice for a 'Giant Bug' exhibit.

In the Youth Art Building.  I was a bit partial.  I wonder why?

A 'Whale Tale' metal sculpture with benches inside.  My kids said we should buy it for our backyard.  Sure, why not.

The 'Breakfast of Champions'!

Hope you enjoyed my adventures at the California State Fair.


Mad Man Bamboo - Rocklin, CA
(916) 300-6335
Twitter: @madmanbamboo

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Clumping bamboo is shooting from the ground....

One of the big distinctions between running bamboo and its non-invasive clumping cousin is the time of year that they begin to shoot.  Running bamboo generally begins to shoot starting in March and it lasts through approximately June or so.

Clumping bamboo, on the other hand, starts shooting around July and it lasts through late September/early October.  Of course this can vary some with temperatures, rainfall, irrigation and fertilization and other key growing factors.

So, like a kid in a candy store, I am on the hunt for new bamboo shoots.  Sure enough, the clumping bamboo is starting to shoot.  When I first make the discovery, my hear goes pitter-patter and it brings a big smile to my face.  I usually drag my wife over to gloat in my new discovery, but she usually humors me with a smile.  Sometimes she is impressed, but other times, I guess I'm just easily amused and amazed.  I can't help it - I'm a 'Bamboo Geek' after all.

I'm always thrilled by bamboo shooting.  Not only is the vertical growth amazing both in speed and height, but the colors and textures are almost unworldly.  Some look like a alien tentacle piercing through the earth, green with scales.  Others are smooth and red like a red hot poker.  What's funny is that the new shoots transform so much that they look nothing like they started just two months later.  I guess that's what makes bamboo such a special plant.

So, here are some photos of clumping bamboo that I discovered shooting right now:

Bambusa oldhamii 'Giant Clumping Timber Bamboo'

Himalayacalamus porcata

Bambusa tuldoides 'Punting Pole Bamboo'

If you happen to own a clumping bamboo (or two...), get out there, kneel down and you may discover a new shoot or two.  For a 'Bamboo Geek' like me, there is nothing more satisfying.


Mad Man Bamboo - Rocklin, CA
(916) 300-6335
Twitter: @madmanbamboo

Monday, July 11, 2011

When you know... "you have arrived." Gardener's dreams places.

This weekend, my youngest daughter was dying to go to Coloma, CA, where on the American River gold was discovered in January 1848 .  That discovery is what shaped California to what it is today.

We had a nice picnic on the American River watching rafters float by and spending time on the river bank skipping rocks.  Truly a nice day with beautiful weather.  Perfect.

As with any time I am out and about, my eyes are always looking for that ultimate garden experience, for me, I am particularly drawn to Asian-style gardens and of course any beautiful specimen of bamboo, be it a potted plant or a full on grove.

On the way home from Coloma, travelling north to Auburn, I remembered a tip from a bamboo customer about a beautiful bamboo grove, just east of Downtown Auburn.  Of course, upon my suggestion that we take a small detour to check this out (an adventure in my eyes), I got an immediate sigh and eye-roll from my oldest daughter.  But, my wife, bless her soul, gave me that 'OK' nod. Yeah!

OK, so after a mile or so down the road, we arrive and there was a beautiful grove of what I think is Phylostachys nigra 'Henon', or maybe Phylostachys vivax.

The angels sung, the butterflies flew and I think I saw a rainbow in the sky.  Well not really, but, that one rare thought that us gardeners get, ran accross my mind...  'you have arrived, my friend.'

Indeed, I had.  After a hurried set of pictures, I left feeling very satisfied for the treasure I had found, hidden away, but worth the hunt.

So, being inspired by all the beautiful bamboo that I have seen in my travels; from San Francisco's Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park to Capitol Park in Sacramento to the United States Botanical Garden in Washington D.C., I decided to create a map where bamboo fans like myself (and others, maybe even you) can post where they have spotted beautiful examples of bamboo.  The map, a public map built in Google Maps, is called Bamboo Spotter.  If you have found a beautiful example of bamboo, post it in Bamboo Spotter by clicking below.  The map is public and can be edited by anyone.  All I ask is that the bamboo can be seen in a public space, like a park or a open public area, and that no advertising be posted on the map.  Please no posts on private unless you own the property.

View Bamboo Spotter - Bamboo that can be seen in public spaces in a larger map

If you have trouble editing, just shoot me an e-mail at sean@madmanbamboo.com and I will manually add you as an editor.

May you have sweet dreams of your special 'garden dream place.'

Mad Man Bamboo - Rocklin, CA
(916) 300-6335
Mad Man Bamboo on Facebook
Twitter: @madmanbamboo

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Barbecue, Beer and Bamboo?

We are really excited to be able to join an emerging event in Downtown Rocklin, Front Street Friday's on historic Front Street (near the Rocklin Train Station).  We will be participating in the marketplace and will be bringing some really beautiful bamboo plants like 'Buddha's Belly Bamboo', 'Teague's Blue Bamboo', 'Black Bamboo' and many other unique types, both 5 gallon and smaller one gallons.

Even more than just the event itself, the event coordinator's vision for the event is to bring people to Downtown Rocklin, which has struggled over the years.  But with events like this along with new unique businesses opening up (like Rubinos and Icing on the Cupcake), the prospects of Downtown Rocklin is looking up, in my opinion as a Rocklin resident.

So, the event will have live music, great barbecue and other food vendors and a marketplace with local vendors.  Barbecue, beer and bamboo?  Who would have thought?

Come join us at the event:

What: Front Street Friday Festival

When: Friday, July 15, 2011 from 6 pm to 10 pm

Where: Front Street in Rocklin (one block from Pacific Street, take the Rocklin Rd. exit from I-80, keep on Rocklin Rd. past Pacific Street and you'll run right into it). [Map it]

Hope to see you there!

Mad Man Bamboo - Rocklin, CA
(916) 300-6335
Mad Man Bamboo on Facebook
Twitter: @madmanbamboo