Being as focused as I am on one particular species, it's been a few years since I have added any truly new plants to the garden. I have studiously stayed away from garden centres until the bitter end, when there is little to choose from, thus keeping within my meager "other plants" budget. Of course I've added Hostas from Bob Pharoah and I've ordered in a few more Astilbes and hardy geraniums, but new species have I none.
by Nancy Oakes
Well, that's not exactly true. Last year I was given some Canna bulbs. They kind of sat around for a while and made it into the ground so late that I doubted any flowers would form. Wrong. They were late, but they were there and when I dug them up for storage (another task I'm not too good at) there were gazillions. Now I'm becoming enamored with the exotic again, so there'll be more Cannas and probably some Caladiums to fill up a much ignored shade garden.
Then, cruising the Internet (this is becoming almost as dangerous as going to garden centres) I came across www.bambooworld.com. This could be trouble. Hardy Bamboo (the real stuff, not "Island bamboo") from a Canadian source (okay, it's BC, but still...). Just a few hours later there is a question on my listerv about hardy Bamboo and answers from lots of folks in Zone 5. Close enough to fate for me.
There were dire warnings about growing any of the Phyllostachys, running bamboos, but lots of recommendations for the clumping bamboos. So my dreams of a grove of 4" diameter Bamboo to use on the roof of a gazebo are dashed. As I cruised looking for other bamboo sites (these people are enthusiastic), I found a fair amount of discussion about the occasional severe dieback, so...maybe just one, with tasty shoots for eating should it become too vigorous. But it may be best to stick with the Fargesias. They're a clumping bamboo that range in height from 12 to 20 feet and all are under one inch in diameter. They grow at high elevations and can withstand very low temperatures and the leaves are a favorite of pandas, so I'll be ready should they ever arrive. Mature plant dimensions are for those grown under ideal conditions. Not something they'll be doing here. Plus, should they ever flower, which requires on-going annual ideal conditions, they'll die.
I was having a few second thoughts, cause these are not cheap and the shipping...Yikes! Then while checking U.S. sites and seeing those prices, these started sounding pretty cheap! Ah, where would we gardeners be without rationalization?