Tuesday, September 24, 2013

PARK(ing) Day and bamboo in Sacramento, California

I had the good fortune to work with the local Sacramento of landscape architecture firm - Stantec on Park(ing) Day which was held this past Friday (September 20, 2013). PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

As of 2011 (they stopped counting), this international event was celebrated in 162 cities, 35 countries, and 6 continents.

So, my part in this event - I was asked to lend bamboo for the Stantec project in midtown Sacramento. To add more bamboo, to the very bamboo savvy Sacramento - I'm in...  all in.  Gotta help the landscape architecture firm that appreciates the beauty, utility and awesomeness of bamboo.

So, here is how the project turned out...

The Stantec Team.  Bamboo used included 'Mexican Weeping Bamboo', 'Weaver's Bamboo' and 'Big Leaf Bamboo.'

Strolling through the competing projects. The bamboo looks great!

Nice transformation of a midtown Sacramento parking spot!

Great job Stantec! Thanks for letting me adding bamboo to your awesome PARK(ing) Day project....

Twitter - @madmanbamboo

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The best containers to grow bamboo in...

Ah, a moment of spare time - I finally have a chance to get back to this blog, break the radio silence and talk about a topic that I have been thinking about and get asked about alot - "What kind of container should I use for my bamboo?"

Bamboo lends itself to growing quite well containerized.  In most cases, due to my relatively cautious nature and past experience, will advise most people to always containerize their running bamboo, due to its invasive nature when uncontrolled.  Additionally, there are several clumping bamboo, such as Bambusa ventricosa 'Buddha's Belly Kimmei' that show off its best characteristics (bulbous 'belly' culms') in a container (pictured below).

So what is an ideal container for bamboo?  Here are some ideas:

1.  My favorite container is a metal horse trough, like these that I bought today.  Simple, sturdy and best of all, the sides are at a 90 degree angle.  Additionally, bamboo likes horizontal space and depth is not a priority (2 feet is typically adequate for depth for most bamboo).  Be sure to drill a few drain holes at the bottom for good drainage.

2.  I always stay away from pots that taper at the top - always go for straight side or pots that are "V' shaped.  When it tapers, the bamboo root mass will tend to fill the pot's growing space completely making any future attempt to pull the the bamboo out an exercise in futility.

3. Always get a container that allows water to drain.  Bamboo does not like to sit in water and 'wet feet' will cause the plant long-term harm up to death over time.  Word of caution though, if you have a container that has a running bamboo and the container is on the ground, be sure to put a paver underneath the drain hole.  Otherwise running rhizomes, will escape (pictured).  This does not apply to clumping bamboo.

4. Think outside the box - bamboo is a unique plant - use the recommendations above, but get creative and bring out the best in your beautiful, unique bamboo.

Use these recommendations and your bamboo will be happy and healthy in its new home above the ground. Cheers!

Mad Man Bamboo Nursery - Rocklin, CA
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Twitter - @madmanbamboo

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Signs that Spring 2013 is right around the corner...

This is the time of year when I start to wander outside more and more.  My normally short attention span is exacerbated, by the draw of discovering something new in the garden that has budded out or sprung from the ground.  Today was no exception of course.

I guess it is what makes us folks that love nature and gardening who we are.  To me, this is the time of year when I awaken from the gray slumber of winter excited to see nature too, waking up.

So, today, in wandering around the tired, winter-worn garden, signs of life are indeed starting to emerge.  No doubt with temperatures rising to the mid-70's in Sacramento in the coming week, this is just the beginning...

New shoot from my Phylostachys nigra 'Othello' pushing through the ground seeking the warm sun.

Buds are opening on my green Japanese Maple.

New colorful and furry shoot from my Bashania fargesii.

Definitely a time of excitement for gardeners.  With camera in hand, and longer days, I'm sure I'll be drawn to the garden more and more.  A distraction, that I don't mind at all.

Mad Man Bamboo - Rocklin, CA
(916) 300-6335
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P.S. If your ready to get back out in the garden and love unusual plants, check out two upcoming plant sales... Saturday, March 23 (Auburn Farmers Market (bamboo only)) and Saturday, March 30 (at McKinley Park in Sacramento; lots of plant vendors)).  Details can be found at www.bamboocalifornia.blogspot.com.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Brrr... its cold, does my bamboo need a jacket?

Really when most people think of bamboo, they picture a lush green plant in a jungle.  Well, jungles are usually in a tropical setting, warm and humid. So, one would wonder, can bamboo survive in cold temperatures?  The short answer is 'yes.'  Bamboo is such a diverse family of plants, originating from climates as cold as northern China to the warm jungles of Central America, an everything in between, including the Sacramento area.

With our recent 'cold' snap here in northern California with temperatures dipping below freezing, its bound to give a local plant lover some anxiety.  Getting ready to go to breakfast on Saturday, I saw the usual tell-tale signs of a good hearty frost (pictured above).  Icy white grass, visible breath and even some slippery ice on the sidewalk. Alas, knowing bamboo well, my anxiety level is pretty low, even given the frigid temperatures.
So, how do you figure out a bamboo plant's temperature tolerance?  Typically, most bamboo growers don't rely on the USDA Hardiness Zones (pictured) as the basis to identify the minimum temperature tolerance of a plant.  Although the map itself is useful in that it helps to identify your lowest average annual temperature, which is the first step, it is not the whole answer.  The be all-end all for bamboo geek's like me are the temperature guidelines assigned to each bamboo variety by the American Bamboo Society.

Generally in the Sacramento region, where we have mild winters, the lowest temperature tolerance in a bamboo plant that I will carry for sale is 21 degrees f.  However, I carry some varieties, like Phylostachys bissetti which can survive at temperatures as low as 10 below zero.  Most running bamboo do not have an issue with the cold temperatures in northern California.  By and large, you need to be cognizant of temperatures for the most popular genus of clumping bamboo growing in the Sacramento region called Bambusa, a practical non-invasive sun-loving clumping bamboo that are used to grow privacy hedges along fence lines.

Here is what to expect for the most popular Sacramento area Bambusas:

Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr' 18 f

Bambusa multiplex 'Hedge Bamboo' 18 f

Bambusa oldhamii 'Giant Clumping Timber Bamboo' 21 f

Bambusa ventricosa 'Buddha's Belly Bamboo' 21 f

Bambusa textilis 'Weaver's Bamboo' 18 f

Bambusa tuldoides 'Punting Pole Bamboo' 21 f

Several years ago, the Sacramento area dipped below 20 degrees for a few nights, quite rare, but I did cover some of my most temperature sensitive clumping bamboo.

Other clumping bamboo that are even more cold hardy for further up the foothills and low mountain regions is the Fargesia genus, native to the mountainous areas of China and found in the Himalayan range.  Also a popular genus for Panda Bears, that eat this bamboo.  Fargesias like Fargesia nitida 'Fountain Bamboo' and Fargesia murileae 'Umbrella Bamboo' are very cold hardy taking temperatures down to minus 15 below zero.  Note that Fargesias are somewhat sun sensitive and should be grown in afternoon shade in our region.

So, the next time you wake up and see that hard frost, don't fret too much.  If you stick to the bamboo listed above you should be fine - your bamboo isn't shivering like you probably are!

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