Sunny, sad, but pretty

We had a wonderful day here in St. Louis yesterday, with the afternoon turning sunny and warm: temperatures were close to 60ºF (15ºC). I took the opportunity to get out and take a look at the bamboos, to see how bad the damage really was.


I couldn't do this right after the frigid weather (-8ºF/-22ºC) not only because I didn't want to yet know how hurt my favorite plants were, but also because there's some damage that doesn't show immediately. I'm glad I waited, as I had a much more positive outlook walking around in this surely-spring-is-coming weather than I would have earlier.

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I usually don't like to take photos during the peak of the day, when the sunshine makes everything so harsh and contrasty. With the black bamboo (Ph. nigra) though it really helped accentuate the dead leaves:


When I got up close to the plants I intended to check all of the leaf buds for signs of damage -- that would tell me if the plant will leaf back out or if I'll be cutting a lot of bamboo canes this year. I found that I didn't have the heart to check every plant in this way, and the nigra is one of them I didn't want to examine too closely. I suspect all of its culms are dead.

Some plants I don't even have to check, like this Ph. viridis:


Or this Ph. makinoi:


Even though they've likely been topkilled, they're still so pretty if you look at the right parts:


My goal with this walk was not only to observe the bamboos up-close, but to enjoy the weather. Even the dead stuff was looking good (Pl. fortunei):


I love the textural makeup of this vignette:


That's an eastern red cedar forming a wonderful backdrop to S. fastuosa 'Viridis' on the left and Ph. nigra on the right. Both of which are probably topkilled.

I think this was an accidental photo of the ground:


It fits so well with the rest of the photos here, I just had to include it.

I was glad to see that the Ph. atrovaginata, which may the favorite bamboo in my garden, held on to a lot of green leaves:


That means that it should continue to size up when shooting starts in the late spring.

The Ph. aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis' is absolutely glowing in the sunlight:


That's because with lots of the leaves shriveled up, there is so much more sunlight penetrating into the center of the plant:


It looks a lot better from the driveway side than it does from the sunlit direction:


I'm not overly concerned about this plant, as although the outermost culms are probably goners:


...the ones in the thick, bushy, self-protected part of the plant still show lots of green:


As a reminder, even though the bamboos will create lots of new shoots in a few months, the only way that I'll see larger culms (the goal every year) is if the plant has enough green, living leaves when shooting time comes around. I already bracing myself mentally for a poor shooting season, as the plants may put most of their energy in to creating new leaves (if they can) than new shoots.

So green, healthy leaves at the end of the winter is the goal. I don't suspect I'll see too many of those in the spring though.

Even the native Arundinaria gigantea took a pretty hard hit:


It's true that technically St. Louis is out of its native range -- it grows in the southern part of the state -- but this one is quite cold-hardy usually.


I didn't photograph every bamboo, as I focused on the ones that were catching my eye. I have to admit that although I'd prefer to see green leaves after a mild winter, even the damaged bamboos are adding so much to the winter garden, I couldn't imagine not growing them.

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Maywyn Studio  – (January 27, 2014 at 9:38 AM)  

I hope the new growing season will prove to be better than anticipated.

Gerhard Bock (Bamboo, Succulents and More)  – (January 27, 2014 at 11:11 AM)  

So pretty, so depressing :-(. And you have more cold weather headed your way if it isn't there already. I bet you can't wait for spring.

Alan  – (January 27, 2014 at 12:19 PM)  

Maywyn: Me too -- thank you!

Gerhard: It's 13ºF/-11ºC right now, with a forecast low of about 0ºF/-18ºC. As long as it doesn't hit negative F temps, it's fine. Funny how quickly tolerance changes.

Lisa  – (January 27, 2014 at 8:22 PM)  

Near 60 degrees! Like paradise! We got ALMOST to 30 degrees on Saturday (OK, it was 22 but sunny!) and I was out without a coat! You're right - we do get used to it!

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