Bamboozled

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Ruhkus, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. Ruhkus

    Ruhkus Member

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    Hello,

    After reading this forum for quite sometime I wanted to finally ask a question. I live in surrey and I am completely redoing my backyard. My property is lower than all my neighbours. I have flattened my backyard and put retaining walls all around the perimeter. Creating a 30" wide bed to plant something for a privacy screen. I probably need at least 12 feet of height, but more wouldn't hurt. I would love to do running bamboo. I am just wondering if a wooden retaining and barrier could hold it? I cant afford to have it sneaking into my neighbors yards. If running is too risky I woulnt mind trying a clumping bamboo. But it would have to be a very vertical one because my walk ways and living space will be right beside these retaining walls in a smallish backyard.

    Any advice, recommendations or suggestions would be greatly appreciated...thanks.
     
  2. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    You can contain a runner with an adequate rhizome barrier, but your situation would probably be best served by a clumping type anyway: less labour as you don't have to install a barrier, not overbearing in height, and no worries about fence-hopping rhizome. Fargesia robusta or Chusquea coleou keep a nice upright form, and seem more sun-tolerant than some of the other clumping types. The Chusquea is really choice, in my opinion, makes a nice hedge, and fits your height requirements. Probably available from at least a couple of local sources.
     
  3. Ruhkus

    Ruhkus Member

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    Thanks for the reply. Putting in a barrier is no problem considering te retaining walls have not even been backfilled yet. However I am intimidated by running bamboo, even though I like the way it looks better. I'll definitely look into those clumpers, but do you think a 4x6 retaining wall lined with a barrier would be strong enough to hold runners ?
     
  4. Ruhkus

    Ruhkus Member

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    I looked up Chusquea coleou. It looks really bushy on all the photos on google. I am sure I am jua not finding good photos. I did find chusquea gigantea at a local nursery website. What are your thoughts on that one ?
     
  5. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Well....coleou is often called 'foxtail bamboo' on account of its bushiness, though it all occurs close to the culm; I take it you're aiming for a more open look down low? Gigantea is a little more like that, only issue might be hardiness, with the coleou (depending on the clone...local plants are probably from hardy mother plants, never hurts to ask) being a little hardier. Gigantea can be killed back @-15C, which may or may not occur in your area every few years, whereas coleou is more around -18C. Was Fargesia robusta too bushy as well? Might be more of the look you're seeking. Bear in mind that you can thin culms and prune the low branches to create an open effect...
     
  6. Ruhkus

    Ruhkus Member

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    Thank you for your response. The open effect is probably even more important than the privacy or anything else. That is why I was asking about runners so much. If their is a very vertical open one that would be great though. The robusta looks really bushy in some shots and not in others. I can figure out what is accurate. I read it could be just differen strands of the same plant.

    In terms of runners. Can a regular wooden retaining wall with a barrier hold it ? I have just heard horror stories and I am complete beginner.
     
  7. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    What about phyllostachys aureosulcata 'spectabilis'? A running type, but if you bury a rhizome barrier (likely available for purchase at the bamboo retailer) around the perimeter of the area you want filled, you'll be fine. I find this one nice and upright, and it should-with a little thinning and branch pruning-give you the effect you're looking for. Yellow culms with green stripes (flushed red when exposed to sun) are nice
     
  8. Ruhkus

    Ruhkus Member

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    So I guess I'll put a barrier in regardless if I use a clumper or runner just to have flexibility. Should I put te barrier on the side on the wooden retaining wall as well ? or would that be a waste of effort because the wall would hold it anyway ? thanks.
     
  9. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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  10. jimmer

    jimmer Member

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    Barrier just on inside of wall, and usually minimum 18" deep speced.... think 2-3mm polyethelene tightly glued and riveted at the overlaps best, metals will rust or corrode...
    the runners 'tend' to stay shallow but have some Sasa palmatum that has rooted out the bottom of a 12" deep container.... and reports of it having covered acres of UK......... Psuedosasa japonicum not quite as agressive, so far......

    I have grown Fargesia nitida, and only spread about 1 inch per year in ground, F. muriale the same...... they both have tendency to tops sprawling, splaying out, as get larger, and nearly wide as tall, in the tops, root crown stays put... F. nitida reportedly likes some shade but since the 'local clone' bloomed in the last 4-5 years, who knows what is out there from the seed now....... Not sure on other species but think most are sun tolerant.... has never been an issue in my jungle....... and my attitude always more where that came from......

    I suspect F. robusta with a heavier cane to 1/2" in diam. less sprawling but also taller..
    Lot of new varieties of smaller culmed, F. scabrida and F. rufa now being sold by tissue propagators.... nice red, orange, and beige culm sheaths, seems new ones every year............. I like the drupey tops of the Fargesias, with the more open, branched pattern, the top sprawl will demand some maintenance in tight spots, but not a major effort.......

    another clumper Thamnocalmus tessulatus, African, is hardy here in the Willamette Valley, zone 6-7, but not nearly as attractive as more open, branched Fargesias.... Thamnocalmus forms a very solid upright mass with no real branching, I don't grow it personally, but have seen dense solid upright hedges of it at commercial growers.... OK if that's what you like I guess.... reminds me of aborvitae hedge 'in canes', of 10-12'...... just a solid wall of vegetation in my eye.........

    One trick I have learned, but don't really practice.....is one can control running bamboos by cutting and painting cut with herbicide... which will kill the immediate rhizome... I learned this from a maintenance man, of a very nice open grove of running bamboo, in the front of a commercial business........ species was likely 'golden bamboo' but never ID'd ATT.......
    my two cents
     
  11. Ruhkus

    Ruhkus Member

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    Wow..thanks for the great responses, that is a lot of info for me to digest. I am going to install the rhimzone barrier even I end up going with a clumper. In terms of species I really have no idea, I wasn't expecting so many options. I guess my criteria would be


    1. Easy to control
    2. Vertical
    3. Hardy
    4. Looks

    The more I read the more confused I get. I also built 2 8x8ft planters in the corners of my property. I was planning to plant another type of bamboo to compliment the first or some kind of other feature plant to compliment the first bamboo. This is quite the learning curve. I can't thank people enough for taking the time to help me out
     
  12. jimmer

    jimmer Member

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    Hey Rukhus

    yeah endless possibilities...... sounds like looking for open and vertical, for limited space.... and hardy w/ low maint..... too familiar

    Besides bamboos, for the planters......
    Tree peonies make quite a splash, even when not in bloom, but are decid... some cheap, some not at all, need to shop......
    I have some cheap Paeonia ludlowii, with smaller yellow flwr, and large deep cut leaves.... about 6x6'+.... upright, soft woody stems, tips sometimes freeze, but often sprout again from lower buds...... I have found generic P. suffruticosa??, white tree peony rootstock, for $5 on sale, in box stores.... which has developed into nice bronzy foliage with big white blossoms on 4-5' shrubs...... most common is P. suffruticosa, but many hybrids, of many P. sp..... including the herbaceous/tree crosses,.... Itohs most well known now, and often premium $$, but see some in $20-30 now.....

    I'm also partial to magnolias, .......M. virginiana is semi-evergreen here in Z6, and upright slow growing, nice 2" white, citrus scented flwrs.... specs to maybe 30' in these colder areas.... but that may take 50 yrs, the way mine has grown in semishade....
    Also delighted with Mag x 'Galaxy' ....mine now about 20't x5'w, 6-8years old, and now loaded with 5-6" pink blossoms, described as columnar, which seems to be.....ultimately?? Nice contrast to Phyllostachys vivax behind it......

    Might even try some fruiting figs, will need to chop down probably yearly, once established, to keep down to picking size,,, but lots of fruit on new wood, and at least 4-5 varieties hardy for fruit here in PNW.... I like Negronne for its black figs, and Oregon Prolific makes big sweet green figs.... also Italian Everbearing and Brown Turkey.... one more I forget, and maybe more now in trials..... very easy to root from cuttings, just stick in dirt and water, no hormone......
    When let figs tree ripen, to very soft...... very sweet, not like the unripe grocery fruits... and the big giant fig leaves a real standout....... no disease or pest problems, unless the birds finally figure them out..... but not so far..... like full sun and plenty of water, but not demanding...... just keep chopped down to lg shrub size for easy pickings.... some tips freeze every year, but they bounce right back....

    For a nice columnar evergreen accent, Buxus x 'Graham Blandy' is hard to beat, mine have hit about 6-7'tx1'w in about 6=8 years,.... 8-10' ultimately?? but Buxus takes well to light pruning to shape.... and very similar is Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil', w/ similar specs......
    both produce very dense columnar evergreen accents..... few if any problems.... low maintenance and nice contrast for bamboos.....

    For another nice tall 'grass'..... might try Miscanthus giganteus (syn floridus) fairly open, brittle woody canes with an nice lacey flower head.... think specs 8-10't and slow spread by rhizomes, in my semi-shade..... other Miscanthus sp in 3-6't range in dense clumps......all prefer full sun but do with less......

    Myself I just watch the landscapes as I drive around, see what I like....... do some research, books, nurseries, on line.... then just go for it.... my attitude is there is always more where that came from.... only thing in short supply these days is space, my lot is a jungle, trees, shrubs, perennials, all kinds...... some get shaded out, and I have to chop back the lower limbs, maybe couple times a year, to keep my paths open and mulched..... but it beats mowing lawn and fighting weeds.....and nice to walk thru and see whats new....
    It has replaced my 'art' for the most part... as it is constantly changing, so never get jaded on a static form....

    I recommend buying small stock as it will more easily adapt and establish, and often catches up with bigger stock in a few years... unless your just old and in a hurry..... the real bargains are in the fall, when nurseries are trying to clear out stock before winter sets in..... prune most things in winter or early spring when dormant, and can see structure of the plant..... some in late spring as new growth starts to flush, to remove freeze killed tips.....or during summer if growth is crowding others...... generally prune to an outside bud, to keep new growth from growing inwards, or thin interior branches to keep open structure.....
    I suggest a poly drip sprinkler system, easily expanded and located where you need it as things grow and change...... good slow soaking about once a week during summer, to get down deep in the soil, and encourage deep rooting....... usually a little organic fert when planted... after that just encourages more growth that don't really need.... keep paths mulched w/ prunings.... or bark around plantings, if in hot spot or freeze protection... weeds seldom have a chance....

    So yeah, a lot to learn, but that's half the fun, and no time like the present..... and just remember, there's always more where that came from...... I keep half a nursery sitting around in pots, trying to figure where to plant it all... and I'm moving more to shade perennials these days..... outta necessity.....

    Check out Fuschia magellanica.... hardy, soft woody decid shrubs, 3-5't.......sun to shade, loaded w/ flwrs all summer in full sun, with plenty of water... .....lots of new varieties, and hummers love the red ones....... tips freeze back in winter, older canes resprout axially, and new sprouts from root crown in spring.... hard to beat....
    For fragrance try Sarcoccoca sp,.. Daphne sp,....and Gardenia x 'Kleims Hardy'..... the Daphnes are bit temperamental, need well drained, neutral to alky soil, and best in some shade, especially D. odura.... all evergreen shrubs to about 2'x2'.....

    Always learning new things, and enjoying the view...... what more can you ask....... oh yeah snacks along the way... figs, blueberries, plums.......

    later
     
    GnomeGrown likes this.
  13. roneill

    roneill Active Member 10 Years

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    Look into Phyllostachys nigra, the black bamboo! If given adequate moisture, aeration and nutrients it tends to stay put, at least from what I've seen on Vancouver Island.
     
  14. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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  15. Ruhkus

    Ruhkus Member

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    Thank jammer and everyone else for their responses. I thought I responded to this last night, but obviously forgot to press send. I am installing a barrier this week, but probably still going to go with f.robusta. My fiancé loves the way it looks. If we don't like it a year or so from one, the barrier will always be there to brave a runner.

    This leads be to my next question. I have 2 planters that are elevated from everything else in each corner. They are 8x8ft and 7th deep surrounded my reinforced concrete. I am sure I could contain a runner as a accent in each corner. What kind of tree or plant do you think would accent f.robusta well? It don't feel like I could all the sudden plant a maple tree in the corners it would match. Should I go with a colorful running bamboo? Windmill palm? Bonsai? I really can't picture howmit will all look together. I really love the look of that gray bamboo, I think it is beautiful, I don't remember it's name....or if my yard could handle if....thanks
     
  16. jimmer

    jimmer Member

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    Well Rukhus
    Its all in the eye of the beholder..... and that's why I suggest watching the landscape as you drive around.... for me its gives me a glimpse of the possibilities.....
    Some of the big coffee table garden design books help, and maybe cover more ground quicker... some photo websites like Flicker with peoples images of landscapes, give a bigger picture scenario, than vendors selling specific plants....... Cal Photos at UC Davis has a database of plant images..... some with settings included.....
    Or if you go to 'Forum Jump' here on UBC, you can find scattered examples of various plants, i.e. Acer palmatums,..... and even a forum on 'Garden Design' that could give some insights,...... haven't spent much time on that thread as yet, but sounds like folks with questions like yours...... and if look for posts with attachment 'paperclips' should be some images.....

    I been around the landscape trade for 15-20 years, enjoy just cruising around looking at plants, have come to recognize many of them..... but not even I can tell you what you would like....... if you're in no big hurry, take some time looking around, see what you like.... I've tried to give you some leads.......
    smaller maples like Acer palmatum, A. circinatum would certainly do fine in those planters, and may in time outgrow them if you don't prune them back,,,,, Large shrubs like the Viburnams or some Rhodedendrons are another option.... but will you like the contrast to bamboos??...... only you can decide that.........
    Worst comes to worst you can always cut them down and start over....... lifes an adventure, enjoy it.......

    As for the 'grey bamboo' think maybe you refer to the Chusquea culeou mentioned....... here's some more info...... http://www.bamboogarden.com/Chusquea culeou.htm I consider it marginally hardy here, though it will tolerate all but the coldest winters I suspect, rated at 0-15*F..... may sprout back from a top kill, if keep the root crown well mulched..... here in the Willamette Valley OR, we are about a Z6-7.... the Fargesias do fine.... this website nursery is in NW Portland, so of similar zone to here......though they sit in a small valley, and display plants on an east aspect slope it seems..... so benefit from cold air drainage... In Surrey you may be milder weather most of the time.... sitting closer to the Sound.... but we are the southern end of the Puget Trough, similar...
    For marginally hardy plants like this, you may fare better if you can find a local grower, with cultivars selected for the local area, by the local climate.......
    But Bamboo Gardens certainly has one of the more informative websites on bamboos, so worth a look......
    all else fails, flip a coin.........
     
  17. KrisB

    KrisB Member

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    Interesting thread! No one has mentioned which bamboos are best for eating, which would be my first criteria. Any suggestions? =o)
     
  18. jimmer

    jimmer Member

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    Hey Kris
    can't speak from experience, but Phyllostachys edullis is the classic for bamboo shoots I hear..... which is a running timber type bamboo..... so will likely want some room to let it grow as only harvest the new sprouts as they emerge..... not real practical in my book
    recently saw some discussion about others produce edible shoots, but recall they all were in the large cane sized Phyllostachys genus.... I suspect P. edulis produces sweeter flavors, and that most all would be edible if harvested at emergence, though again not speaking from experience......
    I grow some Phyllostachys vivax... which produces a thin walled cane/culm and has produced some sprouts of 3" diameter...... and has potential for 4-6" diam in good growing conditions.... the sprouts emerge approx the diam of the culm, so enough there to think about.... flavor??
     
  19. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    All phyllostachys are edible, but a lot of them are rather bitter. P. dulcis is the sweetest, grows well around here, and produces fairly thick shoots on a comparatively short culm. P. Rubromarginata is also quite good, and vivax is pretty good as well. If I was only growing one, though, it'd be dulcis: timber look, good shoots, fast spreading, and a reasonable height.
     
  20. jimmer

    jimmer Member

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    There you go, the Shmoo knows....... yeah P. dulcis sounds like a good choice, as the sweetest... and maybe half the size of edulis...
    check the specs on the bamboogarden.com link above.... I see they have pics and specs for both......
    Never tried the vivax shoots, as more interested in the 'wall effect'.... and with it in severe competition, seldom see sprouts more the 1-2" diam...... given adequate water and nutrients I have seen this same cultivar produce 4" diam... but also with the thin cane wall, have seen it snap under snow and wind loads..... not the stoutest of canes!!!
    Also have a P. nigra cultivar, that collected from a patch of small fleet-footed canes at a nursery near Portland, in my competitive jungle they have not gotten more than 3/4", thou the species specs to 2"... the moral is genetics and conditions may have a significant effect on the shoot/cane size you get........ so where size matters, get good stock, give it some elbow room, keep well mulched, fed and watered...... and give me a call when 'soups on'
     
  21. MarkVIIIMarc

    MarkVIIIMarc Active Member

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    Bamboo sounds like a lifetime of trouble and potential legal problems. What if it escapes into your neighbor's yard and he sues?

    Lord forbid you are next to a golf course, park or other entity with the ability to sue and win removal costs? Sue you could declare bankruptcy but they will just be back the next year with more costs.
     
  22. jimmer

    jimmer Member

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    Hey Marc...
    well sounds like the typical uninformed perception of 'Bamboos'...... not all 'Bamboos' are the same, .......the Fargesia bamboos stay put very well..... maybe 1" per year spread in my experience......

    As for maintenance....... certainly no more than the average hedge of good ole Prunus laurocerasus, or Photinia fraseri...... and I can't think of a more appealing 10-20' fence to screen out the urban sprawl..... and even if that scenery was not just beyond my borders, I just like the looks of a nice stand of bamboo....... again its all in the eye of the beholder.......

    For me, it is a low maintenance, attractive contrast to my various conifers. also used to screen out the urban sprawl at my backdoor....
    And my various clumping and running bamboos, have all been in place about 10 years, with no threat of escaping, in stiff competition with the conifers .... and if that situation arises a little judicious cut and paint with herbicide seems to be a quick cure.... or install the barriers when planting, a one time event......

    I have been a little judicious about which I plant where... my Phyllostachys runners, are all in stiff competition and well removed from the boundaries.. but if escape is really an issue just stick to the Fargesia sp, .... in my experience the Fargesia nitida only spread 1" per year in open ground......

    I have just found a link to Thamnocalmus tessulatus, also billed as a 'clumper'...... which I don't grow...... and it reports a 1' per year spread.... http://www.bamboogiant.com/speciesList/SouthAfrican.html ....... so no regrets that I haven't planted this more aggressive, less appealing species, which I have seen forming solid upright hedges, in local open plantings..... they rival arbor vitae in visual appeal!!!

    I guess the bottom line is do some research, and go with what you are comfortable with..... for me some of the bamboos fill the bill..... and I'm finding no more demanding than many alternatives...... and lot more appealing than another hedge of 'abor vitae' or 'english laurel'........ If I had to choose a low maintenance evergreen for a tall hedge, other than bamboos, .......I'd probably go for the much overused 'abor vitae' or 'photinia'....... but lifes too short to be that boring.......
    and I enjoy my 'jungle theme' out back....... guess I coulda opted for a 'low maintenance' lawn, and watching my neighbors..........Mercy!!!!
     
  23. Ruhkus

    Ruhkus Member

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    It has been awhile since I followed up with this thread. We are finally getting ready tom plant. My fiancé now wants evergreen cedars, because we are limited to only a 2 ft deep planter and we need the growth to be basically straight vertical.

    Could fergesia robusta grow straight vertical, with no over hang. Our walk ways are by the planters and we can't have over hang for bundle of space reasons.

    I was concerned when someone told be pressure treated beams would not hold the clumping bamboos. That the bamboo would eventually push right through them. It is hard to become informed on plants, when I can never seem them in real life and photos on the I ternet proved to be limited.
     
  24. Tree Nut

    Tree Nut Active Member

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    I have four varieties of timber bamboo and found that they don't spread very much. Your 2foot raised planters will most likely contain them. If not there's always roundup. If you're really worried you could extend the planter base into the ground further so the rhyzomes don't escape.

    They and pretty much any type of bamboo will overhang your container unless you plant very short ones. You could probably tie them vertical.
     
  25. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

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    I keep extending our fargesia robusta screen, but much of it is now full grown, I think, and so I know a bit. When the snow hits it it bends WAY over. Mine is between our backyard and the alley and it can made the alley undrivable in an instant. Right now it is fairly upright, but a 6' fence on the south, sunny, side may be what is preventing it from drooping in that direction.
     

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