Calling all "judges" for the annual DG County Fair! Vote for your favorites here!

Show me your bamboo! And other types of feathery things.

Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

In my quest to make my gardens look a little more 'zen' and a little less 'grandma', I am looking for some architectural plants that will add some graceful movement, height, and a little drama to the garden. I had wanted to put in restios for this, but, alas, they hate me. After two years of trying to get them to live, I am finished trying.
I am thinking of using clumping bamboo to get the same effect in some places. I love my black bamboo and its graceful habit and movement. I'd like to see what others have done with bamboo in terms of using it in the garden.
Post your photos and other types of suggestions here. I'm looking for plants that will add softness and texture all year and that will stay taller than they are wide. Other kinds of grasses are fair game as well.

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Love the new thread -- nothing to add to it, but looking forward to new ideas. Funny how bamboo can be so hot and cold -- my son (the landscape guy) is totally opposed to anything bamboo. I think this is from his teaching rather than experience. I patiently await his 'ah ha' moment.

Seattle, WA

Cool. I love bamboo - and I'm actually also in the hunt for plants taller than wide with good year round texture (I'm verrrry tempted by the Polygonum cuspidatum 'Freckles' (Perennial Mexican Bamboo) at Plant Delights. I have clumping bamboo in three spots - and they all came with the house so I haven't a clue as to cultivars, except that one clump doesn't seem to get above 5 feet or so. It's my least favorite.

The key to me in really enjoying my clumps of bamboo has been limbing them up to about 2 or 3 feel and concentrating on good contrasting underplantings. I know I've shared this pic before, but it's one of my favorites - shows the twists and turns in the bamboo canes that limbing really points out.

Thumbnail by Kymmco
Seattle, WA

Here is the other tall clump - behind our pond area. Pampas grass, carex sedge, Chasmanthium latifolium 'River Mist', astilbe, and variegated iris (not all showing/planted in this pic) help mirror the spiky/feathery feeling.

I'm struggling a bit with how to create a mid-story though. Ferns and hostas work well to cover the feet, but then the bamboo is about 12 feet tall and there's nothing in between. It's such a small space though that I think if I put a mid-height shrub of some sort in there I'd have to pull out half of my perennial plantings.

Thumbnail by Kymmco
Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

I love bamboos, I've got a clumper in a raised bed, and a runner in a wine barrel that I need to do something with. I wish I could have the black bamboo but feel that it's too big.

Kym, what I think you need back there is a big dramatic container or some other arty thing. You don't even need to put anything IN the container. Also, I've seen some great videos on you tube where they use reciprocating saws to divide bamboo clumps for sharing. (One reason it was veeery easy for DH to talk me into letting him get another tool, lol) That smaller one might be great for Pix.

Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

Kymmco, I love those photos! I was just reading tonight where people 'limbed up' their bamboo and now that I realize that's what's happening it makes sense. I kept seeing these clumps that looked like a big green mushroom, then I would see others where the lovely legs were showing. Now I get it. (sometimes I am slow..)
An urn or pot would be really nice in front of your bamboo. As sue says, you don't even have to plant it. Just something to draw the eye. Or a midsized perennial? That polygonum you like reminds me alot of some I grew from seed. Maybe it's bigger than mine. I think the variety is 'Painter's palette'. Variegated leaves and pink/red flowers just like that. Last year mine were about 3 feet tall.
Another tallish perennial I love is meadow rue, especially the one with the glaucus leaves and very pale yellow frothy flowers. That might be interesting in front of your bamboo. Here's the meadow rue I was referring to. Sue will probably remember the name. My brain is fried from working on taxes just now. You can just see the new shoots of the bamboo in the background. it's much bigger now.

Thumbnail by Pixydish
Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

I was just thinking more about your leggy bamboo and something with bold round leaves might do nicely also. something that would not overwhelm your other perennials, but would be taller and have a rounder form that would balance the bamboo. I have a plant in my head but we'd have to play 20 questions to find the name of it, even though it is easy. Here are some clues:
comes in different forms with names like 'the rocket'
slugs like it
the one I'm thinking of has round leaves that grow from a central base, the leaves being on stalks, maroon in color, with a very orangy/yellow daisylike flower in the late spring/summer. Likes moisture. I'll see if i can find a photo. I hate when my hormones wear off. I should just go to bed.

If I can't find that plant I'm thinking of, at least here is that persicaria I was telling you about.

Thumbnail by Pixydish
Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

The Thalictrum I can think of is 'rochebrianum' (sp???) but it has pink flowers. The yellow one is lovely and I can't remember its name, either.

And I think Pix is thinking Ligularia for the big round-leaved one-she's right, it would be good there. They like moisture and shade.

Personally, as someone on a small lot, I am afraid of the persicaria-even Heidi sort of warned me off it, but I do think that one is really pretty.


Edited to add: Looked up the spelling and it's 'rochebrunianum'. ah well...not too bad for almost midnight, lol

This message was edited Apr 10, 2011 10:11 AM

Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

Ligularia! Yes! That is it.
I have that Thalictrum 'roch....' and it is an amazing plant. I love it. The other one is Thalictrum flavum ssp. glaucum.

Some persicarias are clumping, some are running. No need to fear the clumping varieties. Kind of like bamboo. LOL!

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

LOL, Pix, I'll remember that!

Seattle, WA

Huh, thalictrum is an interesting idea back there. I have some that I got from Annie's Annuals in a full sun bed - just had to go look it up, and what do you know it's rochebrunianum! Thalictrum delavayi 'Hewitt's Double' is listed as liking more shade - that might work in front of the bamboo. It's a north facing exposure with very little sun.

I love ligularia - but dang, 'slugs like it' may be an understatement. I bought 'Britt Marie Crawford' last year, and I have never seen a plant go down that fast before. It was slug buffet time and they took the entire plant out in less than a month, regardless of all my various slug control efforts.

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Re slugs and ligularia - they dessicate my 'othello' but not nearly so much 'the rocket' - wonder why? Both are in fairly shady locations, and 'the rocket' is in a damper bed which would seem to encourage the slimy critters. Maybe it is their companion plants, I'll have to think about that. Or 'othello' is just tastier for some reason.

Salem, OR(Zone 8b)

Hi, just waving to get on the thread for learning purposes. No bamboo for me. 2 houses ago, my neighbor planted the non-clumping type and it destroyed the stone patio I had built by hand (literally the bamboo lifted the stones 6 inches off of the ground) so I have an aversion naturally.

Fine Gardening has an extremely detailed, wonderful article in the current issue (June 2011) entirely on the Thalictrum species. Excellent photos, details about everything you ever want to know about rue. (6 page long article!)

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Kym, what a calm restful corner you have created. An idea for your mid-area might be one of the taller globe flowers (trollius) or masterworts (astrantia). Seems they both get about 2-3 feet with the flowers above the foliage. Not sure how much shade you are dealing with though.

Thumbnail by bonehead
Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

Kosk, that is a nightmare story of a very un-neighborly neighbor, I'd say.
So Mike and I visited Jade Mountain Bamboo, which is very close to where I live, and, of course I loved it and also learned a few things about it. Like the fact that some of the 'running' bamboo actually walks very gently, practically tip-toeing while others sprint. And that if you want the nice big culms, you have to get one of the spreaders, so choosing a tip-toeing one is essential. The man pointed me in a couple of good directions and also discussed how to contain/maintain it. They have a patch of timber bamboo that is just beautiful. It's about 20 feet by 10 feet, and has been planted since 1998.

They have this one: http://www.bamboogarden.com/Fargesia%20sp.%20Jiuzhaigou.htm in the clumping format and it's very nice.

http://www.bamboogarden.com/Fargesia%20sp.%20'Scabrida'.html

No one has photos of their bamboo? I know there is a dave's member, I think Linda, who has a lot of bamboo.

I think I will keep an eye on craigslist, or for a trade for a clump. I'm going to have plants for trade this year no doubt.

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

I love the look of bamboo, but am afraid of it. Glad you got correct info and pointers to contain/maintain it. I like the reddish stems in the first link. I'm always drawn to red.

Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

I was afraid of it too, and now I'm sad that I didn't research it more. We've decided we're going to have a grove of the big timber bamboo in an area that has not yet been landscaped, over by our tall fir trees.

Here's one of the clumpers i would like to have:
http://www.bamboogarden.com/Borinda%20papyrifera.htm

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

OOHH that's lovely

Salem, OR(Zone 8b)

love that shade of green!

(Judi)Portland, OR

I have 3 huge wooden planters with clumping bamboo in them outside of my dining room window. The area is between my house and my garden designer neighbor, and we wanted something that would create a feathery screen but not be like a wall. I love it. The main floor of my house sits on a basement so it is higher than the ground level, and the view of the bamboo from inside the house is of the foliage and not the pots. Remember - I have a small city lot so privacy without blocking light into my house or my neighbor's is important. I think the gracefulness of bamboo is lovely.

Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

that sound lovely. do you know which variety you have?

Seattle, WA

Thanks for the info re running vs. tip toeing Pixy. Based on that I'd say I have two clumping types and one tip toeing. The tip toeing is my favorite.

Also, thanks for the idea to put a decorative urn in the spot by my bamboo. It makes a lot of sense given all the root competition going on back there. I tried it out with a big empty pot this week, and think it's going to work great. I'm not going to pass up the chance to put plants in it though!

Lake Stevens, WA

If your looking for a big pot Molbaks is haing a buy one get one free sale starting April 14 tomorrow if you belong to their savings program and Friday for everyone else.

Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

I think Sue gets the credit for the pot idea, but we'll all want to see photos when you have it finished. Do you know what kind of 'tip toeing' bamboo you have?

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

I definitely want to see pictures when the pot is in place! What are you going to plant in it?

Seattle, WA

Okay - all the great ideas (and heads up on the Molbak's 2 for 1 pot sale) drove me to it :)

I bought two large skinny aqua pots for either side of the pampas grass behind the pond, and then took an existing pot that matches pretty well and elevated it in front of the bamboo. Here are some establishing shots, then I have close ups of the plantings in the pots.

Thumbnail by Kymmco
Seattle, WA

Here is a shot at pretty much the same angle as the 'before' picture further up the thread. Things in this bed are just starting to wake up (lots of ferns, hostas, astilbe, etc.) so hopefully it will fill in and mask the pot I'm using upside down for elevation. I'm sure walking out there and glaring at it and telling it to GROW will help...

This message was edited Apr 20, 2011 2:23 PM

Thumbnail by Kymmco
Seattle, WA

And now the fun part - the plants!

In the two tall pots I put in - Korean tassel fern, Ligularia 'Othello' (maybe four feet off the ground the slugs won't get it?), Oxalis 'Sunset Velvet', Plectranthus Dark Purple, and some orange and purple pansies.

The small pot has some variegated shrub-type St. John's Wort (from Sharon and Julie's), purple heuchera, and creme brulee heuchera (to match the orange oxalis in the big pots).

It all looks very just planted, but I think once it grows in a bit it will be very pretty and well suited for the shady pond area.

What do you guys think?

This message was edited Apr 20, 2011 6:56 PM

Thumbnail by Kymmco
Lake Stevens, WA

WOW! Looks good. Be sure and take a picture when things grow up. Love the pot color.

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Kym, very nice choices in both the pots and their contents. Really pops in the corner.

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

Dittooooo!!!!

Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

Great color! Have you tried one of the taller pots grouped in front of the bamboo with the shorter, rounder one? It would be like a grouping of three - one 'bamboo', and two pots. Really nice choices for color.

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Another thought while you are waiting for your plants to obscure the up-turned pot would be to find a nice piece of driftwood or forest stump to set it on (or perhaps that is illegal now...who knows)

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

Love those pots-the color is fabulous, and I like the shapes, too. I like Pixy's idea of grouping them all together in front of the bamboo, too.

(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Wonderful, Kym. I agree with Pixy that those pots really would look great a little closer together. Maybe another trip to Mobanks for replacements at their current locations? The plantings look fabulous with the blue colors.

Salem, OR(Zone 8b)

Beautiful!

Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

I am definitely loving those tall pots. They have me thinking... and that's not necessarily a good thing.

(Ang) Bremerton, WA(Zone 8b)

Pixy I love the look of black bamboo. I saw it at one of the zoos, can't remember which, and instantly fell in love with it. Simply beautiful.

Is there a bamboo safe for containers? I just love the look of it.

Seattle, WA

Isn't every bamboo good for containers? I love black bamboo too - my have to go for a container of it one of these days.

So I heard what you all were saying about the one sad little pot in front of the bamboo, but another trip to Molbak's was not in the budget, and I already bolted the two tall pots to supporting posts in their current locations, so I did a little rearranging of existing pots.

Things still need to grow and fill in, but I think it looks better. And the pots look more level in real life than in this picture, I must have been standing at a weird angle.

Whaddya all think now, better?

Thumbnail by Kymmco
Union, WA(Zone 8b)

Love the color combo. Those tall pots are fantastic. Last photo looks good.

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