The recent summer heat—late this year by historical standards—has kicked the subtropical clumping bamboos in our front yard into high gear. The existing culms (or “canes” as many people call them) are heavy with lush foliage, and new shoots are beginning to poke out of the ground.
This is a stitched panorama of the bamboos as seen from the front door (to the right is our large succulent bed).
In the next photo, the darker green bamboo on the left is giant clumping timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii), the lighter green in the middle is baby blue bamboo (Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’) and the shorter one on the right, a bit hard to see, is Alphonse Karr bamboo (Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’).
From this angle, the dominating bamboo is Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’; on the right is a close-up of a new culm that still retains its white coating.
Here are two of the half dozen new shoots on Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’.
Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’ is busy shooting, too. Here are just a few of the new shoots. While clumping bamboos require less maintenance than running bamboos, I still remove shoots and culms that I don’t want, mainly for aesthetic reasons.
The next photo shows two other bambusas in our front yard. On the left, next to the sago palm, is Asian lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridividatta’, try saying THAT three times fast!). It has one new shoot but it hasn’t grown much so it may abort. This bamboo shoots relatively late in the fall, which is why one of last year’s culms got killed by the winter frost (it hadn’t had time to harden off).
To the right is emerald bamboo (Bambusa textilis ‘Mutabilis’). It has one very crooked shoot as you will see further down.
The same plants as seen from the street. Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridividatta’ is on the right, and Bambusa textilis ‘Mutabilis’ is on the left. Check out that shoot sticking out to the right. Normally Bambusa textilis produces fairly straight culms.
Walking around the outside of the front yard back towards the front door, you get a better view of Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’. Some culms are overhanging the walkway and will need to be trimmed. If you make a cut right above a node (i.e. right above a bundle of branches), it’s virtually invisible and the culm, lighter now, will return to a more upright position.
This is the giant clumping timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) seen from the street. It definitely dominates the spot that had once been occupied by a nasty Bradford pear; even now, 2½ years after it was removed, I still fight suckers that seem to pop up over night.
Currently there are five new culms on the Bambusa oldhamii, about the same diameter as last year (in the 2½ inch range). This year I’ve cut back on fertilizing and watering all the bamboos in the front yard because I want to slow them down as much as possible. All bamboos are lush and vibrant so no ill effects so far.
And finally let me introduce you to a secret dweller of our bamboo jungle. My daughters call him Chess, after the Cheshire cat in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland movie. We have no idea who he belongs to, but we often find Chess hanging out between the bamboos. Last night I was finally able to take a few photos before I scared him off.