Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Final visit to Bamboo Sourcery

This morning I drove to Bamboo Sourcery in Sebastopol, CA to pick up six bamboos I had ordered. I couldn’t help but feel sad knowing that in all likelihood this would be my last visit. In September, Bamboo Sourcery announced that they would cease operations in November (they recently extended this deadline by a couple of weeks). I don’t know what the reasons are, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the economy. They must have been affected by the dramatic downturn of the housing market in California and the attendant decrease in landscaping business.

What makes the closure of Bamboo Sourcery even more poignant is the fact that this isn’t just a backyard business with limited stock. Bamboo Sourcery was a major player in the industry, offering as many as 300 varieties, including many obscure ones that few other nurseries carried. Their 8-acre facility in the hills on the western edge of Sebastopol, about 20 minutes from the coast, comprises the nursery and sales operations, several houses as well as demonstration gardens with mature specimens of many running and clumping species, all clearly labeled. Walking through the clumping bamboo garden this morning, all I could hear was the rustle of leaves—no cars, no people, no man-made sounds. I kept wondering what will happen to this magical place with its thousands of bamboos. I don’t know if they will find a buyer for the nursery, or whether a shroud of benign neglect will settle on this hilly property. It would be a shame to lose this unique resource. Maybe it can be turned into a non-profit botanical garden?

Entrance to Bamboo Sourcery, with a beautiful specimen of Fargesia nitida 'Nymphenburg' (commonly known as “fountain bamboo”)
Office trailer, surrounded by mature bamboos
Planting next to the office; Otatea acuminata aztecorum on the left and Sasa palmata 'Nebulosa' on the right
Plants waiting for customer pickup
Row of 25-gallon containers
Creek trail with Yushania anceps 'Pitt White' on the right. It was impressive seeing a mature specimen of this variety. It’s technically a clumping bamboo but the rhizomes have a very long neck so the behavior is very similar to a running bamboo. This is a stunningly beautiful plant but needs space.
101130_bamboosourcery_Robert_Young nigra
Phyllostachys viridis ‘Robert Young’ (yellow) with one culm of Phyllostachys nigra (black)
Mature specimen of Himalayacalamus asper, a tightly clumping mountain bamboo from Tibet. Not very cold-hardy
(rated to 15°F) and not very tolerant of high summer temperatures either. Appears to do really well in coastal locations.
Another clump of Himalayacalamus asper on the right, with Phyllostachys angusta (stone bamboo) on the left)
Trail through the clumping bamboo garden
Gate to the lower propagation area
My haul, to be planted in the stock tanks and containers in our back yard

Bamboo Sourcery appears to be sold out of the most popular varieties in 1- and 5-gallon sizes, but they still have lots of 15- and 25-gallon plants—these are impressive plants for instant effect. Varieties less in demand are still available in smaller sizes. The price list on their web site is updated daily so check there if you’re looking for something specific.

If you live in Northern California and want a great deal on bamboos, you have until December 18th to make the drive to Sebastopol in Sonoma County, about an hour north of San Francisco. Unfortunately November 29th was the last day for shipping so no more mail orders. Contact information and driving directions are on their web site.

UPDATE 4/13/11: Bamboo Sourcery re-opened for business on March 15, 2011. For more details, visit their web site.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mistletoe-infested pear tree getting a trim

Last week I wrote about our Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') suffering from mistletoe infestation. At that time we were expecting the City to cut down the tree altogether because that’s what they did last year with our other Bradford pear. The remaining one seemed to have much more mistletoe, at least in our eyes, so I considered it a logical candidate for removal.

However, this morning a City tree trimming crew showed up—much to our surprise since we hadn’t been notified. They proceeded to remove all the branches that had mistletoe growing on them. This certainly solves the problem in the short term, but since Bradford pear trees are susceptible to mistletoe infestation, I won’t be surprised to see this problem rear its ugly head again in a few years. I’ll definitely keep a close eye on this tree!





Bradford pear last week…
…and  today, after all the mistletoe has been removed

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fruit and vegetable still lifes

What do you do when it’s cold outside and you don’t feel like braving the elements? Well, I like to photograph fruit and vegetables that are on hand. We eat them every day, but how often do we really stop and admire their beauty?

Patty pan and acorn squash
Patty pan squash and garlic
Patty pan squash, butternut squash and garlic
Butternut squash and garlic
Hachiya persimmon and garlic
One hachiya and two fuyu persimmons
Two fuyu persimmons
One fuyu persimmon

Friday, November 26, 2010

Winter in the mountains

We’re still at my in-laws in Mount Shasta, about an hour south of the Oregon border. This small town of 4,500 is nestled against the base of Mount Shasta, at 14,179 ft. the fifth highest peak in California and considered a dormant volcano although it may erupt again in the next several hundred years.

Contrary to where we live just west of Sacramento, they do have snow here, as evidenced by the pictures below. Enjoy my photographic impressions of early winter in the Northern California mountains.

Black Butte, a 6334 ft. cinder cone. When Mt. Shasta is hidden by clouds, travelers driving by on I-5 often mistake Black Butte for the much larger volcano.
Mount Shasta rises abruptly from the surrounding terrain and seems even more imposing since there are no other mountains nearby. In New Age circles, Mount Shasta is considered a major power vortex.
To me icicles are the most beautiful harbingers of winter
Ice crystals forming on the hood of a car—beauty can be found in the most unlikely places
Japanese maple leaf encased in ice
A vivid reminder of a season gone by
Bleeding heart leaves
Still life with bottle and oregano
The last of the deciduous trees in my
in-laws’ yard

11/27/10 update: Woke up to gently falling snow—and a winter wonderland. Here are some new photos from today.

Falling snow and pine trees in my in-laws’ back yard
Exploding tree
Fresh snow clinging to tree bark
Rhododendron bud
Back yard idyll
Potted plants in garden window
Mount Shasta in all its glory

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bamboos in the snow

This summer we planted several bamboos at my in-laws’ place in Mount Shasta in the mountains of Northern California (zone 7b): golden vivax (Phyllostachys vivax ‘Aureocaulis’), stone bamboo (Phyllostachys angusta), yellow groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata), Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’, Fargesia denudata and Chusquea gigantea. We also put a container-grown black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) in the ground.

We’re back in Mount Shasta for Thanksgiving and I just took some pictures of the bamboos. Quite a difference, to say the least. Some of them I couldn’t even find!

11/27/10 update: It snowed all night and most of the morning. Everything looks magical when covered with new snow, especially bamboos, so I’m adding new photos from this morning.

Stone bamboo (Phyllostachys angusta) in July 2010 right after we planted it…
…and now in the snow
Golden vivax (Phyllostachys vivax ‘Aureocaulis’) in July 2010…
…and now in the snow
Chusquea gigantea, barely visible in the foreground
Yellow groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) in the snow. Since this was was quite small, just 4 ft. tall, it didn’t get bent over by the snow like the others.
Peek-a-boo! A Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’ is hidden under the mound in the foreground.
Black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) in early October…
…and now, flattened by the snow and almost invisible

All of this is business as usual for those of you who live in areas that regularly get snow, but for us fair-weather people, it’s startling to see how plants 4,6 or even 8 ft. tall can virtually disappear under the weight of the snow.