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.


  1. Beautiful, and sad.

    No panoramic shots? I always forget to take those when I'm at Needmore bamboo too, so I don't blame you.

  2. I forgot to add: is that a shibatea in the back of the car? I love shibatea kumasaca -- it has such different leaves.

  3. Alan, the fourth picture is a composite of two individual photos, but yes, I did forget (AGAIN!) to shoot specifically for a panorama.

    As for the shibatea, you've got good eyes! It is indeed a shibatea kumasaca. It looks a bit chlorotic to me. I'll repot it tomorrow in a more acidic soil mix and hopefully it will green up nicely.

    I'll describe the species I got today in more detail after I plant them in our stock tanks. I'm still not 100% sure yet what will go where.

  4. A rather bittersweet post. Good to see the photos, they have some stunning specimens there. And a shame they're closing down.

    Nice haul btw!

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


Post a Comment