Staying beautiful this year

One of the least "in your face" bamboos in my yard for most of the year is Sasa veitchii, also called "kuma saza" bamboo. It's mostly overlooked because of its size: only about a foot tall at most right now, and also because of its location in my garden.

I've got it planted in the narrow bed between the driveway and the house, and if you're coming into my backyard down the driveway you are probably looking elsewhere -- there are plenty of other things to catch your eye first.


For the spring and summer this bamboo is nothing too special to look at though -- just the dark, glossy leaves that most of the Sasa, Indocalamus, and many of the Sasaella genera of bamboo exhibit. In the autumn though, this plant really starts to shine.

The margins of each leaf start to wither -- the cells burst and die. This results in a whitish band on the edges of each leaf, which looks a lot like a special form of variegation.

With just a small plant (very few leaves) this result is unimpressive, and kind of looks like you just have a sick plant. When the planting expands though, you end up with a dramatic look that is hard to ignore.

This running bamboo seems to spread quite slowly compared to others I grow. I planted half a dozen or so very small weak plants in 2008 (received for free from Brad at Needmore Bamboo) as can almost be seen on the right side of this photo (the best I could find of the newly-planted veitchii):

Incidentally I'll always remember the veitchii as the plant that introduced me to saddleback caterpillars:

I brushed the back of my hand against this guy twice while working here shortly after planting, and it was by far the most painful insect interaction I have ever had in the garden.

Anyway, back to the veitchii and 2012. It's finally started to fill in, creating the display I've been waiting for:

It shouldn't look this good in January though. The mild winter has preserved these leaves incredibly well, so instead of dried and ugly foliage I've gotten to enjoy this beautiful bamboo at its peak for a few extra months.

It's almost impossible to miss right now.


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (January 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM)  

Sasa veitchii really shines in your yard! If I walked down your driveway, I would definitely notice it!

I bought a small plant a couple of years ago, and not only did it look unimpressive (like you said), it also didn't like our climate and croaked. I guess it's too hot and dry here in the summer.

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