Annual visit to Needmore Bamboo

Since 2008 when I discovered that bamboo was the plant I was really interested in, I've been making at least one trip to Needmore Bamboo each year. I thought this would be the first year that I didn't get out there, as I already have plenty of bamboo varieties and am running out of room. But an innocent comment from Brad at Needmore ("Do you have Propinqua 'Beijing' yet? I think that would do really well in one of your planters") got me thinking, and less than a week later I was on the road.


On my first trip out there I picked up just a single plant, but every trip after that has been more productive, or "efficient" you may say. Since it's a 4.5 hour drive from St. Louis to Needmore, Indiana with no stops, it's not like I can go out there every weekend. So I got together my list of the plants I wanted, and came back with six bamboos and one water plant I rescued from the compost pile. This post is not about the plants I got though.

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No, this post is about Needmore Bamboo itself. Whenever I'm there I take very few photos, mainly because I'm too busy looking around and enjoying the solitude. On this trip I had some time in the cold, cold morning before leaving to walk around and take some photos, so I can share with you a bit of what this place feels like. At least what it looks like.




If you've never visited a bamboo nursery before, it's quite a treat (unless you don't particularly like bamboo). Not only do you get to see more species and varieties than you have in your own garden (most likely), you'll also get to see more mature plants, or plants that have more room to spread.



Brad has a few acres of land, and although part of the space is not plantable due to terrain or the pond...


...there's still plenty of space for bamboo.



There are lots of towering trees too -- they're as prevalent as bamboo.




This is the driveway that becomes impassible at times during the winter, especially if there is an ice storm like there was last year:


The ice (or heavy snow) will bend the culms over the driveway, creating hundreds of roadblocks. Brad had to cut a path through the culms last winter, as there was no other way to get the bent culms out of the way -- they had bent over from both sides of the road and frozen together.

This is a problem most of us will never experience, although I sometimes wish I had enough large bamboo that this would be possible.




Brad doesn't grow only bamboo though. He, like myself and most other bamboo growers I know, love plants in general and grow all sorts of things, from natives to crazy exotics:



Did I mention it was really cold the morning I took these photos? It would reach 80F (26C) later in the day, but it was only 36F (2C) this morning, and the frost was heavy in places:


My sweatshirt wasn't nearly enough, so I had to make my photo walk short. Probably a good thing though, since I needed to get back on the road!


Beautiful weather, a nice drive across rural Illinois and Indiana, and lots of bamboo at the destination!

Another great trip! (I'll talk about the plants I got in another post I think.)

(Oh, and don't forget Needmore Oatcakes, another reason I make at least one trip out there a year. We love these delicious oatcakes that Brad's wife bakes, and stock up whenever we can. Saves the cost of having them shipped to us -- but we do that too.)

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Gerhard Bock  – (October 6, 2011 at 9:44 AM)  

Brad's place looks like bamboo paradise. My favorite photo was of the deck; bamboos growing all around it AND in planters on it. Thank you for this post!

P.S. Can't wait to find out what plants you brought home!

sandy lawrence –   – (October 6, 2011 at 9:03 PM)  

I for one hope you brought home that interesting thorny plant with the yellow fruit. I want to hear all about it. What is the name of this plant? I don't recall ever seeing it until your photos.

Thanks for the lovely tour of Needmore Bamboo!

Andrea  – (October 6, 2011 at 11:14 PM)  

Wow, what an amazing bamboo "forest". I can almost hear the hissing sounds of the leaves.

Steve Lau  – (October 7, 2011 at 2:01 AM)  

You can truly tell the cold hardiness of the species with mature groves like these. Also were there any groves breaking the 40ft mark?

I've seen groves break 30ft easily, but 30-40 seems to be the limit as far as bamboos in zone 6 as far as what I've seen so far.

Alan @ It's not work, It's gardening!  – (October 7, 2011 at 6:02 AM)  

Steve: Maybe, but I didn't ask. I'd guess that his Ph. atrovaginata is 30-35 feet tall.

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