Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A new variety of bamboo, a fluke or recipe for disappointment?

I often stroll about the backyard, usually on some project or just merely focused on a gardening basic, like keeping your plants watered during a hot summer day.  It's easy to get so focused that you forget the little things, the garden surprises that lurk around the corner, soon to be discovered in the garden.

Admittedly, when I had passed by a three gallon container of Bambusa multiplex "Alphonse Karr" (a clumping bamboo) that I recently potted and that was slated to be sold at a farmers market or a plant sale, it never really caught my eye.  It's not unusual during the summer to see leaves on bamboo that are heat stressed, faded or just show the effects of the season's extremes.  I had probably walked by this bamboo several dozen times thinking a heat stressed culm on this bamboo had met its final days, fried in the hot, brutal Sacramento sun.

Finally, the other night, this plant caught my attention. Not sure why, but it did. Pure white leaves, mixed with dark green leaves, unusual, but very unlikely to be anything but dead leaves. I touched the leaves thinking that they were for sure dry, but much to my surprise, the leaves were alive and very healthy.  My heart, going pitter patter, I knelt down and examined the plant further - three independent white-leaved culms among maybe a total of six other green-leaved culms.

My thought process - Eureka! A new variety!

Excited, I showed my wife who dispensed caution that this could indeed be a fluke, a mere coincidence.  In bamboo geek-speak - a genetic anomaly.  Only time will tell, I suppose.  But, it was exciting to possibly have a new variety on my hands that perhaps, if I'm lucky, I could submit to the American Bamboo Society as a named variety.

So, as usual, getting way ahead of myself, I posted the photo on Facebook asking for common names for my "new" bamboo (if it turns out to be a stable new variety)...

This is what I got on Facebook (lots of clever folks for sure):

"Dove Bamboo"

"Ghost Bamboo"

"White Oragami"

"Crane Bamboo"

"White Gold"

"White Light"

"Peace Doves"

"White Unicorn"

"White Bamboo"

"Dawn Mist"

"Mist at Dawn"

"Karr Blanche" (clever)

So, I have a spot picked out for this bamboo.  I will grow it out and observe it to see if its genetics are stable and showed the white-leaved leaf as a consistent trait.  If so, I'll submit it as a new named variety, a dream come true for a plant geek like me. So, if you read this blog and have a great idea for a new name, post it here.  Who knows, it it rings true, I may use it.


Mad Man Bamboo - Rocklin, CA
(916) 300-6335
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Congrats to Aaron Cochran for winning a local Turf War contest... using bamboo in a landscape design

I  must admit that I have been a bit busy and well... I'm a bit behind on a few things including this blog. One thing that was a great experience a few months ago was to participate on the DIY Network's show Turf War.  No, I didn't have my yard remade into something new, pitting my self against a competing neighbor's yard makeover.  Rather, I was able to provide clumping bamboo for the project (one of the competing neighbor's yard located in Elk Grove, CA).  The show itself aired on June 1, hence my guilt for the lateness of this post.

I couldn't post photos or really even discuss the show until it aired on June 1.  So 16 days later, I want to share me experiences with the show and the project.

As with most camera shoots that are not live, your often at the whim or mercy of the post-production editor. And much to my surprise, when I was finally able to watch the show (via the complimentary DVD that was sent to me by the production company), I actually had some air time (providing advice on clumping bamboo to one of the show's contestants).

In the show I participated - Fire Water versus Floating Bed, I had the great honor of working with local landscape professional Aaron Cochran of Landscapes by Cochran.  Aaron is one of the most down-to-earth guys you could run across in the landscaping industry and really cares about the details.  He is passionate about his work and it shows.  In the episode I participated in - Aaron won. No surprise from me.  Aaron knew the difference between running and clumping bamboo and know how to incorporate it into a landscape appropriately and artistically.

Honestly, this understanding of bamboo (specifically the difference between running and clumping bamboo) is lost on many folks, even landscape professionals, but Aaron showed a level of expertise and savvy on how you can use clumping bamboo - with all the benefits and none of the problems that running bamboo can pose in the ground.  Of course, with the good information that does exist on clumping bamboo on the internet and in well-informed gardening magazines, the perception of bamboo, specifically clumping bamboo, is changing.

I also was very impressed with the production staff at Big Table Media, a Sacramento based production company, and there overall knowledge of bamboo.  I discussed bamboo at length with some of the production staff and they showed a genuine appreciation for bamboo and really understood the difference between running and clumping bamboo.  It was really quite refreshing.

Thanks to professionals like Aaron, he was able to use clumping bamboo in his winning Turf War design.  Cheers to that!

So, here are a few photos and highlights from the Turf War episode I participated in:

Aaron Cochran and I at the project site, clumping bamboo is in the background.

Filming the homeowner and Aaron working on the water feature.

Bambusa ventricosa 'Buddha's Belly Bamboo' that I helped the homeowners plant in pots. Great choice since a constrained environment (growing in a pot) really brings out the 'bellies' in this bamboo. If you watch the episode, this is where I provided advice along the way, some of which showed up.

Overall, I really enjoyed participating in the show.  Aaron really did a great job on design and execution.  Most of all, his incorporation of bamboo showed a level of sophistication and understanding.  Coupled with the well-informed Big Table Media staff, it was great to see how well this project turned out with the use of clumping bamboo.

The show continues to be re-aired, so check your local listing or the DIY Network's website for the next time it is scheduled to air.


Mad Man Bamboo - Rocklin, CA
(916) 300-6335