Begin with Bamboo

(page 3)

The most impressive hardy bamboos are found among the Phyllostachys species. These are often used as specimen plants.

Phyllostachys nigra, the Black Bamboo first introduced into Europe in 1827 is still one of the most popular species. The culms are initially green maturing to an attractive shiny black.

Most often seen in nurseries is Phyllostachys aurea. It is particularly suitable as a tub-plant because new culms emerge in close proximity to the parent plant. It is not one of the hardiest Phyllostachys but it will thrive in a sheltered part of the garden.

The tallest bamboo in Europe is Phyllostachys heterocycla f. pubescens (Ph. edulis). In southern France culms can reach 25 metres in height with a culm diameter of 15cm. Other very tall species are Ph. bambusoides and Ph. viridis. All of these love heat but they won't grow as high in more northern parts of Europe.

Phyllostachys viridi-glaucescens is a very fast grower that is somewhat more invasive than others. The leaves are quite large and have a bluish underside. When mature it has rather frothy frondage that causes bending over of the culms which is very attractive. In the warmer continental climate of Germany, a few plants have reached well over 10 cm in height. In cooler areas it may reach 6 metres. In Kew Gardens in London, one plant has some culms, which are over four centimetres in diameter.

There are a large number of species within the genus Sasa. The most well known species are probably Sasa palmata with very large leaves and Sasa veitchii whose leaves develop a pale brown margin in winter. Some of the smaller species of Sasa can be perfectly used as ground cover.

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