The Culm Before The Storm

(page 3)

The Bamboos

The Phyllostachys bamboos are a large group of tall bamboos of 12-25ft in height with calms of up to 2 inches in diameter. In general they grow more vigorously and attain their largest proportions where summers are long and hot, provided there is adequate moisture. However, this should not deter those from cooler p arts of the British Isles from growing these lovely bamboos. Under cooler conditions they merely attain more modest proportions and in some species they tend to take on a less erect and more arching habit. The Phyllostachys are for the most part only moderately invasive, while displaying a fine range of highly decorative culm colouration, particularly in some of the more recently introduced cultivars. Colours of mature canes range from the bright yellow of Phyllostachys bambusoides 'Holochrysa' through the yellow with a bright green stripe m the groove of Phyllostachys bambusoides 'Castillonis' and the orange-purple staining with deep green in the groove of Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis' to the jet polished black of Phyllostachys nigra. Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis' along with Phyllostachys bissettii are particularly hardy bamboos and to be recommended for the more northerly garden. Phyllostachys aurea and its fine cultivar 'Holochrysa' with golden-yellow mature culms and lime-green foliage often with a thin yellow stripe in early season leaves, make smaller but very statuesque bamboos having only attained about 8ft in height with me to date. The crowded node bases of P. aurea are a notable feature. P. nigra is another highly desirable bamboo, which should be grown in full sun in a sheltered position to show of its best. Under such conditions it has rewarded me with fine black polished culms ad masses of cascading dark green foliage.

The stately habit of many Phyllostachys bamboos makes them particularly suitable for growing close to water. However, it must be borne in mind that bamboos in general will not tolerate water logging, but, being shallow rooted, they can be grown on a raised area of as little as one foot above the 'high water mark'.

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