Black versus golden bamboo for lakeside hedge?

Discussion in 'Poaceae' started by VanIsleGardener, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. VanIsleGardener

    VanIsleGardener Member

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    We're on Vancouver Island, BC, and have a lakefront property on Cowichan Lake (Youbou). We have a road allowance that's used as a public boat launch beside us, and would like a tall (15' or so) privacy screen. It can't be really wide (about 5' wide max), there isn't room, and we don't want it to spread much on our side (though some spread on the road side is ok). But we don't want to be able to see through it. If we had more width available, we might have considered Leylandi cypress, but at the moment we're leaning to either laurel or bamboo, and the two types that are consistently mentioned by local nurseries are black bamboo and golden bamboo.

    This is a vacation property for us, so we're there in the summer but not the winter - so we need something that doesn't need yearound maintenance.

    Climate is typically very hot and dry in the summer (90 degrees F or 30+C is common), very wet in the winter, usually freezes at least once in the winter and often has snow. Can be very windy particularly in the winter. Being lakefront the hedge will get full sun for most of the day in the summer. Not a sheltered location. Soil isn't great; drains really well (no clay) but doesn't hold moisture well.

    So, over to the experts, we'd appreciate any advice on the relative merits of black and golden bamboo, or other suggestions if neither of those sound right to you for what we have in mind.
     
  2. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    They both have similar hardiness, good to around -18ºC before the culms die (will grow as a dieback perennial). If it gets colder than that where you are, there are other better suited species to choose from. Phyllostachys are from summer monsoon areas and enjoy lots of summer rainfall. In your area, they would probably benefit from summer irrigation and P. aurea will probably tolerate the heat & drought better than P. nigra.

    Neither species need to be sheltered and both require full sun.

    Simon
     
  3. VanIsleGardener

    VanIsleGardener Member

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    Thanks, it would not normally get that cold and one local nursery has black bamboo growing locally, albeit in a more sheltered valley (not on the lakefront).

    We could water in the summer, not a problem. Any thoughts on which (black or golden) might give better privacy? Are they both evergreen?
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Black flops over when wet. Not a good hedge bamboo.
     
  5. LillianAustin

    LillianAustin Member

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    Hello, this is my first comment to this garden site, and actually my reason for focusing on bamboo is that I have several varieties of bamboo in my yard, and I am selling my house and I would like to know if anyone out there is interested in coming and digging some up for their gardens. However, in answer to the question re: golden and black, I have both varieties and they are beautiful and the make a wonderful screen. I am in Centralia Washington, so our weather is similar. Both our black and golden spread nicely and have created a wonderful privacy screen as well as a beautiful rustling sound when the wind is blowing. We have had quite a frost this winter and all of our bamboo plants have bounced back and look beautiful. So, if you know of anyone who would like to come dig some out of our garden for free, please send them my way.
     
  6. VanIsleGardener

    VanIsleGardener Member

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    Still wondering, if planted as a hedge (narrow space, we really don't have more than 5' width) whether you'd suggest black or golden. And, we might be able to come and get yours; my parents live in Tacoma so ???
     
  7. silver_creek

    silver_creek Active Member

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    Black is shorter than Golden (Golden has the potential to be quite tall); they both spread but are not as aggressive as many of the Phyllostachys. Our Black does not flop over when weet; like all bamboos it does flop over under snow load! Our Black provides great screening for our sauna dunk tank.
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Black bamboo grows taller than golden bamboo. Either can remain as a tuft for years or spread vigorously, depending on site conditions.
     
  9. VanIsleGardener

    VanIsleGardener Member

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    I made more calls today and now have two more varieties to consider, phyllostachys glauca Yunzhu and p. heteroclada. These are apparently tolerant of both drought and wet, which is good because this area gets both kinds of weather; hot/dry in summer and wet/cold in winter. They apparently grow more strongly vertical (less flopping over) but they are running bamboos so barrier was recommended. Another advantage of these (for hedging) is that they have green growth at the bottom, which we need so there's screening at ground level.

    So, it's all a little confusing, thanks for the posts so far and any other thoughts are appreciated.
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    E Asian habitat has reverse precipitation pattern, they will be mostly keyed into that. If site floods in winter or turns to dust in summer you may not be able to overcome that with selection of certain species. Better to provide for adequate drainage and irrigation, choose kinds that have desired growth habits. I wouldn't count on any running bamboo staying in a clump, you will probably have to use root barrier or plant genuine clumping bamboos.
     
  11. Weekend Gardener

    Weekend Gardener Active Member 10 Years

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    Ron makes a very good point.

    If you are going to grow a running bamboo and yet stay out of trouble in the years ahead, you should install rhizome barriers. Black bamboos (Phyllostachys aurea)are definitely taller - they can get up to 30 feet, whereas golden bamboos (meaning Phyllostachys aurea) gets up to 15 feet. If you are considering it's use as a hedge, the branches and foliage on the black bamboo start a bit higher up the culms, than golden bamboos, whose laterals often start just above ground level. A black bamboo hedge, therefore, may not give you as solid a hedge lower down than the golden bamboo. In my experience, in our garden, the golden bamboo is a faster and more aggressive runner than the black. However, errant rhizomes from the black bamboo goes much further - the longest rhizome last season reached 15 feet from it's parent clump and was still growing (I have heard longer distances).

    The two things most temperate bamboos do not like are drying out and sitting in water for too long. So, unless you ammend the soil, you might have a problem, especially in regards to the dry summer. As for hardiness - most parts of Vancouver Island should not pose a problem for temperate bamboos. Our golden bamboos survive the winter outside, unprotected, to temperatures down to -10C.
     
  12. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Amending the soil does not lower the water table, except by adding volume to the amended area which may cause it to raise up. After the organic amendments have decomposed enough the soil will settle back to where it was. Bringing in topsoil with a significant mineral component and mounding or berming with that is more to the point.

    Most effective way to use organic matter to increase moisture retention is to put it on the surface, as mulch, which will shade the soil and reduce water loss. That's how Nature does it. Even a compacted clay can be made loose by covering it with wood chips.
     
  13. alex66

    alex66 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    My winner is Phillostachys Vivax Aureo CAulis very beautiful, gold and striped green (bark)ever grenn !!I have this bamboo ,is good for your conditions
    alex
     
  14. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Phyllostachys glauca yunzhu also flops terribly when young; even more so than black; it will tolerate light shade, however. Be aware that it is essentially a timber bamboo (thick culms). You might look into something like phyllostachys aureosulcata spectabilis, which is about 10' taller than you're looking for, but grows quite straight and looks,well, spectabilis....if you're willing to take measures to contain it, you could try hibanobambusa tranquillans 'shiroshima'. Spreads fast, looks good with variegated leaves, but provides a bushier, less stately look. Want to stress the need to contain this one. All are available locally.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2007
  15. VanIsleGardener

    VanIsleGardener Member

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    I again want to thank everyone who has posted. At this point (not 100% decided) we are thinking we will go with the black bamboo because we have, locally available, such nice large plants (minimum 2' diameter roots, 8-10' or so tall), at $80 each if we take 10 plants. There is nothing from nurseries even approaching this size/price, that we have found. With containment on our side, bamboo planted 3' apart, and staking to protect from snow damage, I think we will get the screen we need. We are also thinking of filling the spaces between bamboo with small Vibernum (1 gallon pot size, about 18" high) to add bulk/ground screening in the first few seasons. (The Vibernum would be offset inside the bamboo line by about 1'). These can then be moved to other parts of our 1-acre property if the bamboo comes along and they aren't needed; or they may end up surviving better than the bamboo and within 5 years or so could be the hedge, if needed. We planted one of these, as a test, in this same location early last fall, and it is growing and doing well, probably nearly a foot higher now than when we put it in despite pretty tough conditions this year (colder/wetter/windier/snowier than usual). And I know they get to a substantial size (10' tall, 10 wide) eventually in our area.

    Reminder re/ local conditions:
    - Lakefront on Cowichan Lake so less extreme than inland or saltwater coast locations locally.
    - Hot (80-90 degrees F, 25-32 C) and dry during the summer (though we are there and can water), wet and cold (though only rarely below, say, -5 C or 23 degrees F) in winter.
    - Water table rises to within a few inches of the surface typically once a year in the winter, for 1-2 weeks max.
    - Can be very windy in the winter.
    - Generally snows 1-2 times but melts within a few days. Not usually large snowfalls, 1-3 inches probably the normal range.

    I'd really appreciate feedback on our plans, given all the above.

    And, I'm going to start another thread asking advice on a different problem on our property. We need something to bind our retaining wall together. Currently blackberries are doing the trick, but they are too tall and too prickly for our beachfront. The thread will be titled "Lakefront retaining wall - need a blackberry substitute". If you have any thoughts on that, please look for it.

    Thanks again for all your help, and if you have more to offer, it too will be very much appreciated. We have a 1-acre property with huge potential but currently in appalling shape after 15-20 years of almost total neglect of houses and grounds. We love it, are providing the TLC it needs, and hope to be very proud of it as the years go by. By the way, at some point we're looking for one more partner (currently it's owned by 4 people, me and my husband and another couple who have been our friends for 16 years). There are 4 houses on the property so lots of room for each family to have their own.

    I can upload (or email) photos of the black bamboo we're looking at, or of the property, if that would help with feedback.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2007
  16. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    "staking to protect from snow damage" ... not a good idea. The culms will snap to the point they are staked. If allowed to fall on their own, they will in most cases stand again once the weight has been removed.
    Deer and rabbits love new fresh shoots!

    Cheers, LPN.
     
  17. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Yellowgroove (aureosulcata) also noticeably arching, one up the street from me strapped to fence to keep it from blocking driveway.
     
  18. yousatonmycactus

    yousatonmycactus Active Member

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    A nice alternative might be to plant black bamboo, staggered for more privacey, with a foreground of heavenly or weeping bamboo. Black bamboo is used as a very effective screen between the Aloe Garden and the Japanese Garden at Lotusland. A 360 degree virtual tour can be viewed at

    http://www.lotusland.org

    A lovely koi pond is surrounded by the black bamboo which has a beautiful mahoganey
    cast. A serious corm barrier should surround the area to a depth of three feet or so.
     
  19. Weekend Gardener

    Weekend Gardener Active Member 10 Years

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    I agree with LPN about not staking the bamboos. The culms are very flexible. They flop right to th ground with heavy snow, but once the snow is shed, they pop right back up. If you can't have them flopping over because of space constraints, the alternative is to top the culms off.
     
  20. tlpenner

    tlpenner Active Member

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    ..just planted out a hedge of bamboo my self, and chose the black bamboo 'Henon', as I have planted the golden bamboo previously and found it shorter than required (max. height 6-7') and a bit ratty looking in the summer. The effect of this new hedge is gorgeous and it screens the neighbouring 3 storey building.

    They definitely need some serious soaking in hot weather--not a light sprinkle. I am dedicating two- 75 gallon rain barrels to this as I am not sure how the cholorinated domestic water will be for bamboo, and it is simply wrong to spend good drinking water on ornamental plant irrigation.

    Finally, I did as my bamboo supplier suggested, lining the dug trench with EPDM membrane(pond liner), with the trench sloped slightly in the longitudinal direction, to drain. Trench is dug to 2' deep in the centre, liner covers all this and up the side slopes to grade. Plant the bamboo, fill with soil to the top of the liner, then add a couple of inches of mulch so you can't see the edge of the liner.

    I HIGHLY recommend the barrier/liner idea, as I have tried cutting back and digging out bamboo that had migrated in the past when I didn't heed this advice, and it is no picnic as those roots and shoots are hard as nails. It also finds a way to come up the centre of every other plant in the garden, so that eventually there was lawn with bamboo, peonies with bamboo, roses with bamboo...you get the picture.

    Hope this all makes sense, and good luck!
     
  21. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Last edited: Feb 27, 2007
  22. Laughing Dog

    Laughing Dog Active Member

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    We are located in Campbell River, in a protected area from the wind and along a stream bed ... similar to Cowichan Lake conditions overall. We are a little frustrated with our Golden Bamboo, which we had planted as a hedge but is showing very little growth. Maybe we are simply impatient - we planted the Bamboo early last spring and it seemed to start to grow by mid-summer, but no new rhizome shoots. Then it got hit particularly hard this winter and so far no indication that it is going to show much new growth??

    Again, maybe we are just being impatient and it is too early to tell. We did everything that was suggested - amended to soil; proved a contained area; placed the hedge in an area with adequate sunshine but not too hot overall. We are not sure how to fertilize bamboo, or whether we actually need to for that matter? Anyone have suggestions with regards to fertilizing or when the optimal period of growth occurs for bamboo on Vancouver Island?
     
  23. VanIsleGardener

    VanIsleGardener Member

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    Thanks for your reply. I think I can help you.

    For our lakeside location, we decided to put in 3 black bamboo clumps (grown locally, in sawdust, easily dug and transplanted); they went in about a month ago and are fine so far. No new growth but no die-off either.

    On your golden, do remember we've had really weird weather the past year; last summer was unusually hot and dry, followed by fall being cold/windy/snow far beyond normal; now a really cold spring. So I think if your bamboo is alive and looking well, it's poised for good growth once we get decent growing conditions (i.e., our normal climate!). You've done very well to get it through such challenging conditions; the first year after transplant is critical and both drought and cold can easily kill golden bamboo (and most plants).

    We've lived in this area for 25 years, and this is the most atypical year of weather we can remember.

    So to answer your question - yes, given the weather, you're being too impatient. (In a normal year, you'd be right to be worried. But it hasn't been normal.) I think you've probably done everything right, otherwise your plants would be dead; so just keep following your instincts/knowledge and once we get normal weather, your bamboo will thrive.

    We have golden bamboo beside our house in Victoria, well established, and they came through this weather ok - but we had snow damage and they weren't happy.

    So again, I think you've done well - just hope for more normal weather this year!
     
  24. Laughing Dog

    Laughing Dog Active Member

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    Great, thanks for the advice - they did survive the winter well and do look relatively healthy overall ... so we will just be patient and see what happens :-)
     
  25. VanIsleGardener

    VanIsleGardener Member

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    I realize I didn't answer you about fertilizer etc., because I don't know.

    Can someone else help - what kind of fertilizer, and what season, helps bamboo most??
     

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