Begin with Bamboo
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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