A visit to Needmore Bamboo

This past weekend I took a trip to Needmore Indiana (near Bloomington) to visit Needmore Bamboo Company. I've visited this nursery at least once a summer for the previous three years, but this visit would be a little different as Brad had arranged a "Bamboo Celebration Day", and there would be several other bamboo lovers attending.

It would be a great chance to talk to some other gardeners about their bamboo plantings, tour Brad's groves, and meet some new people who loved bamboo, so I knew I couldn't miss it! Plus there was one more species of bamboo that I really wanted to get and plant this fall, so the timing was perfect.


There was a demonstration of bamboo cane splitting, a small display of some craft items that had been made from split bamboo, plus the opportunity to dig a few different species and get free plants. I didn't partake in the digging this time, as I had already gotten those species from Brad during last summer's trip. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of the cane splitting or craft pieces, but I did take plenty of photos of the nursery.

I'll start off with Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis':

Brad has this planted right next to the house, and it's so impressive.

When you're sitting on the porch in the afternoon you get to see the plant backlit by the sun:

In front of this planting is a small pond containing several water plants including papyrus, taro, and water lilies:

There are several different types of plants here: bananas, dark-leaved redbud (I think), dogwood, Japanese hardy orange 'Flying Dragon', and a groundcover bamboo Sasaella bitchuensis:

Don't forget the frogs!

There were several frogs in the pond, but this big guy was the only one that wasn't afraid of me and the camera.

This unique spider was in one of the potted bamboos on the deck:

I've seen a similar species with the spiked, angular body in my garden before, but I always like photographing interesting spiders.

Along the driveway where it meets the garage is another impressive bamboo grove: Phyllostachys atrovaginata:

This is a beautiful bamboo that gets quite thick culms for its height. The largest here are around 1.5" thick:

I've seen this bamboo in Michael's garden here in St. Louis, and knew I'd have to grow it too. Michael isn't planning on reducing his plant at all as this is one of the bamboos that he'll be keeping in his garden, so this is the species I'll be buying from Brad on this trip.

Let's take a look at some of the views of this hilly, wooded, bursting-with-bamboo property:

Brad has had about 1.5" of rain in the last three months, and it's not possible for him to water everything he has growing, so some of the plants were showing some stress.

Most of the bamboo groves looked fine though, although some of the trees have already started dropping leaves, a month too early.

This is Brad's smaller planting of Sasa tsuboiana, a really attractive smaller-sized bamboo:

Besides the small pond near the house that Brad built, there's a larger natural pond on the property too:

The water level was a bit lower than I've seen before, but not as bad as I expected. It's still pretty, surrounded by trees and bamboo.

I've forgotten which species this is, but I love the wide, glossy leaves:

Partly due to the milder winter they had last year, but also due to the age of the groves (most are 5-6 years or so I believe) they're starting to produce some larger culms:

This is Phyllostachys rubromarginata, and the culms are a vibrant green color that really jumps out. Just beautiful! (I recently got a large division of this from Michael's garden. It wasn't this vibrant though, probably because it wasn't getting as much sun as it wanted.)

One of the best things about seeing some of these more mature bamboo plantings is knowing that I'll be seeing similar results in a few years. It's especially exciting knowing that many of my plants came from these exact same plantings, so I can see precisely what they'll look like in the next few years.

Last up is a beautiful planting of Shibatea kumasaca, one of my favorite smaller bamboos:

It's got short, rounded leaves, so has a much different look than most other bamboos. Michael has this growing in his garden, and although his is a bit taller, Brad's is a larger grove. It's great to be able to see two different established plantings of it to help me visualize what it will look like in my yard -- once I figure out where to plant it that is.

(There were dozens of plants I didn't get photos of, but I was too busy enjoying the visit to take photos. Sometimes a camera just gets in the way of enjoying the moment I've found.)

So that was Bamboo Celebration Day at Needmore Bamboo. It was a lot of fun and I hope it becomes an annual event. For a bamboo "enthusiast", what's more fun than a warm late summer day spent walking through bamboo groves, talking about bamboo, and digging or buying a new bamboo plant?

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