Last weekend I tackled another of my bamboo-related jobs, something that I've been debating and thinking about for a while. I finally stopped thinking and started gardening! So what was the job? Along my driveway I have six different bamboo species, most of them quite different visually from each other.

Except for these two. Sasa tsuboiana (on left) and Sasaella bitchuensis. Can you tell that this is not only two different species, but that they're from different genuses? I can't. It's possible that a mistake was made when I planted them, or that the Sasa tsuboiana was mislabeled, or that these two species just look so much alike. In any case, I've decided to remove one of them: the tsuboiana.


Instead of just potting up divisions from the plant though, I'm going to transplant a large section of it. It's such a beautiful plant, it will make an instant impact in some less-attractive area of my yard.

I've got just the spot in mind too:

It's in the front yard, in a bed that I've never had much success with. This part of the yard looks pretty nice when seen from the right angle:

but from straight on, it really needs something. Earlier in the year I transplanted a couple of blue rug junipers here, but it was really just a temporary move as I knew that although this was a better spot than the one they were previously in, it wasn't ideal (not enough sun).

So I pulled both junipers out, as well as the one remaining heuchera, which is really struggling and tiny:

I potted all of these up for future planting somewhere else in my garden, who knows where, who knows when.

That leaves the planting area clear, and although it's usually best to dig your planting hole first I'm not going to do any hole digging until I know the size of the hole I need, so on to the bamboo.

Since the plant is pretty large, I'm going to take about half of it for transplanting. I used two boards to keep the culms and leaves out of the way so I could cut it in half:

Then it was just a matter of cutting all around the section of the plant I wanted to remove, prying under it a bit with my spade and my digging bar, and cutting a few rhizomes with pruners. Once the plant felt loose I grabbed as many of the thin culms as I could in each hand (thinking as I did this of the house in Pixar's Up) and pulled.

To my amazement, the section came right out and I put it on the driveway. It's like a large-scale section of lawn turf sod! I decided to drag it to the front yard on my pulling sled rather than try to lift it into the wheelbarrow:

Since I had the plant out, I knew how large and deep to make the hole:

I don't know why I bother taking photos of holes.
They never look like anything.

I plopped the plant in, backfilled using the soil I removed, and watered well.

I think it looks pretty fantastic here! The only drawback: the cats no longer have a clear view out of that window.

Back to the original bamboo though, because there is still half of the plant left and I want the whole area cleared so I can plant something else here.

Repeating the same procedure -- but no longer needing the boards -- I removed the second half of the plant:

The parts of the plant closest to the driveway were left because there is a plastic corrugated drainpipe buried along the driveway so I couldn't dig there. Instead I just yanked all of these remnants out of the ground:

Then potted them up:

There were many, many rhizomes I crammed into each pot.

What did I do with the second half of the plant? One of my neighbors has a problem spot near her front door in which she has a hard time keeping anything alive. I suggested the bamboo, she thought it was worth a try, and 15 minutes later she had some lush bamboo in a spot that was previously nothing to look at.

So now I have a cleared spot in which to plant another bamboo species:

Which one should I plant? My first choice was this Sasa oshidensis:

It's got leaves that curl a bit, so ends up with a different look than the previous plant (and the one next to it).

My second choice is this Shibatea kumasaca:

I really like the kumasaca but since I already have one of those in the ground in another part of my yard, I ended up choosing the oshidensis for this particular spot:

It's really small, isn't it? In two years it will be almost back to the size of the plant I removed though, so I'm not concerned.

So let me summarize: I removed a plant from a bad spot (hoticulturally it was perfect -- design-wise it was not), beautified my front yard and a neighbor's too, and got a new (to me) bamboo species into the ground, reducing the number of pots I need to care for.

A nice couple of hours of gardening I'd say!


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Patrick's Garden  – (October 1, 2011 at 10:40 PM)  

I enjoyed the trip around your garden. I had no idea you can grow that many bamboo species in Saint Louis. I lived there for three years and I didn't remember seeing bamboo at MOBOT. Are they growing them too?

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 2, 2011 at 11:18 PM)  

I love how many groundcover (or shorter) bamboos you grow. I'm not having much luck with Sasa in our climate, and my Shibatea kumasaca is suffering too (ratty looking, half-brown leaves). It must be the lack of humidity.

Alan  – (October 3, 2011 at 7:44 AM)  

Patrick: there are a few temperate bamboo planting at MOBOT -- three or four species in the Chinese garden, a groundcover in the Japanese garden, and a big planting of Yellow Groove next to a house toward the southeast corner of the gardens. There's tropical bamboo in the Climatron too.

Gerhard: that could be pH-related burn on the kumasaca. Do you fertilize with acid-lover formula and add soil sulphur?

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