Monday, August 26, 2013

My favorite plant in the garden this week

Can you guess from the picture below? No, it's not the Meliathus major you can see here. It's not the 'Flame' Calla, the Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy', the Eryngium varifolium, or even the Trachycarpus fortunei photo-bombing in from the right.

It's none of the summer stars of this picture, because it's a complete workhorse in my garden.

Yup, it's bamboo. Four Fargesia robusta 'Campbell' bamboo to be precise.

We started out six years ago by planting a Phyllostachys species to screen us from the adjacent neighbors. It filled in fast and was giving us appreciable privacy within two years.

But it was a little too robust and we got worried we wouldn't be able to keep it controlled. I posted about removing it here and then about getting some replacement clumping bamboo here.

Those expensive new gallon pots from Bamboo Garden looked pretty wispy, with just three or four culms per plant when we put them in the ground in autumn of 2010.

You can just barely see one of those skinny little clumps below, against a fence pole to the left of the tomato cage. This was in early summer of 2011.


But by 2012, the individual clumps had at least twice as many culms. And they were thickening up.


This year, the southernmost, sun-exposed two clumps are nearly meeting overhead.


The clumps in more shade still have a way to go, but they are getting closer to each other.

We chose this species and cultivar because it is one of the most upright hardy clumping bamboos that is sun-tolerant. We wanted the narrowest possible screen so we wouldn't be giving up a lot of garden space, and the arching canes of 'Campbell' can be pruned for a more upright look.

And I love the look of the white culm sheaths that stay for months on the newest canes.




The stats on Fargesia robusta 'Campbell'
  • Hardiness: 0°
  • Zone 7-9 (not for climates with high heat and humidity)  
  • Soil: moderately acidic, loamy
  • Water: moderate, regular until established (we have hardly watered it this summer)
  • Height: 12-15 ft., shorter in full sun
  • Diameter: 0.75 in.


And the reason it's my favorite plant in the garden this week? Because summer is waning, and I can see ahead to winter days when all summer's perennials have died back, and our Fargesia robusta 'Campbell' will continue to form a beautiful green screen along the fence line. That's when I'll be loving it even more than I do now.

If you want to see what other bloggers are loving in their gardens, pay a visit to danger garden for the weekly favorites roundup.

26 comments:

  1. Oh...why didn't I plant 'Campbell' ? Because the Bamboo nursery recommended the aggressive spreading one!

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    1. I'm hoping they were properly apologetic when you subsequently called on them to remove it...

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  2. I fear planting any bamboo, even the clumping ones, in the ground. Mine is black bamboo, in a large stock-tank. I don't think I water it enough. It has dropped lots of those sheaths into the area around it. Yours looks fabulous!

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    1. I covet black bamboo, but I'd never put it in the ground either!

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  3. I'm in the same "boat" as Alison. I regret planting my bamboo in the stock tanks because I just can't seem to keep it happy there. Your's looks AMAZING and I can completely understand why it's your fav this week (and many others). Thank you so much for the progress shots too, and it helps to have finally seen your garden in person!

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    1. After we pulled out the phyllostachys, we put some in three half whiskey barrels. It got root-bound and we couldn't keep it watered enough. I miss it, but it was such a challenge to keep happy.

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  4. Hi Jane. Like Alison and Loree I planted black bamboo in a container--a vintage wash tub. It did fine for the first few years then went into decline. It wanted out. I finally, just this year, after a few hours of digging and sawing and heaving, got the thing out of the container and into the yard debris can. All the while my neighbors have planted running bamboo and two culms have made their way into my garden already. All that to say that I commend you for your smartness--growing clumping bamboo in good soil. The results are fantastic. Your garden photos look like a magazine shoot. Plus I love the bamboo reeds you attached to your otherwise boring fence. Very cool!

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    1. So sorry about the incursions of your neighbor's bamboo! I saw a special bamboo spade on the Bamboo Garden web site...

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  5. Earlier shots of your garden make it even easier to appreciate what you have accomplished. Your scholarly approach to choosing just the right bamboo is impressive. You may find some of us beating a path to your mountaintop.

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    1. So far so good, Ricki. I hope I'll be as happy with the robusta in ten years!

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  6. Hmmm...perhaps I should have gotten THAT bamboo instead of the one I have (which hasn't grown even 1' taller in the 2 years I've had it)! I want privacy!!!

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    1. We may have divisions to give away in the next few years, Scott!

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  7. It's hard to believe that bed is so young! Count me in as one of those who wishes I had THIS bamboo instead of the one I inherited. So lovely.

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    1. Thank you, Heather. As I said to Scott, divisions could be yours in future years.

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  8. You obviously picked the right bamboo. Good job!

    Your garden looks great, too.

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    1. Only took us three iterations of culture and two genus!

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  9. Thanks for posting this update. The bamboo looks great. We are getting ready to plant Fargesia robusta 'Campbell' as a privacy screen. It is nice to see the potential.

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    1. You were the genesis of this post after you emailed about our Campbell form, kitchenbitch. Hope yours does as well as ours has!

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  10. A great workhorse plant, cleverly deployed.

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    1. Thanks, Jason. Every garden needs its workhorses.

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  11. Hi Jane, I clearly picked the wrong clumping bamboo. Mine is slow growing. sigh. I really like yours, very graceful. And, I really like the fence in the background. It has lovely texture. Quite sad that I missed your open garden this summer :( But, your pictures are wonderful! Cheers ~

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    1. Jenni, you may have the last laugh if we are battling huge clumps of bamboo when yours attains the perfect height and size!

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  12. Such a clever girl, Jane, and your beautiful garden shows it. And I can't believe that damned calla is still blooming! I went searching local nurseries for that color -- not to be found.

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    1. That photo of the calla was an earlier one, Denise - it's about done now. Maybe Joy Creek will have it online next year: that's where I got mine.

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