The flowering of bamboo has always been shrouded
in mystery. Certain species can take at least sixty years before
flowering. It is often believed that if one species of bamboo starts
to flower in a particular locality, it will do so throughout the
world. This is not entirely true. Plants that flower simultaneously
undoubtedly came from the same parent plant that has been divided
and re-divided over a period of years. In this manner the same botanical
identity is retained and all of these plants flower at the same
time. If, however, plants come from different sources in their native
habitat they all have their own botanical identity that varies within
narrow limits. There's a good chance that the period of flowering
of these plants will be different.
Most of the hardy bamboos thrive best in moist and
warm environments, sheltered from strong winds. They won't do well
in a very exposed position. North and east winds especially can
be harmful. Certain species need to grow in shade whilst others
prefer full sunlight. Nearly all types of soil are suitable as long
as they are well drained and kept constantly moist. The hardy bamboos
range in size from the pygmies of only 30 cm to giants of twelve
metres or more. In favourable climates such as the south of France,
a few species will reach well over 20 metres in height.
One species that has been cultivated in European
gardens for a long period of time is Pseudosasa japonica. The leaves
are medium-large and the habit of growing is stiff and erect. It
is excellent for hedging and ideal for windbreaks. Other ones like
Arundinaria (Fargesia) murielae and Semiarundinaria nitida are bone
hardy and very graceful looking. They are of the clump-forming type.
An excellent low-growing bamboo, and one of my favourites,
is Arundinaria viridistriata with its attractive golden-yellow striped
foliage. In a cold winter the leaves may damage but it always gives
new fresh brilliant coloured growth in spring.