Such a little thing

Something has been bothering me in the garden for a while, and last evening I finally did something about it. It seems to be such a little thing compared to some of the other garden tasks that need doing, but I couldn't get it out of my mind.

What was annoying me? The dead culms of my black bamboo, Phyllostachys nigra. It was topkilled two winters ago and I left the full, dead culms in place for an entire year before I trimmed them into the state you see here. They didn't get cut down completely because I like both the architectural element they add to the garden and the reminder of this plant's potential (after a couple of mild winters).


The problem though is that these dead culms look dead. They're not as attractive as I had hoped -- they're certainly not the sleek black culms that this species is known for. Here's a wider look...

...and here's a closer view:

So I spent 30 minutes yesterday improving things... I hope. What did I do?

I applied deck stain/sealer to the culms!

This was a pretty quick operation since I didn't use a brush -- I dipped a rag and was able to slide it up the culms, staining all sides at once. I did need to use the small stepladder to reach the tops of the tallest ones, but it was an easier job than I anticipated.

Before and after:


My initial plan was to use different colors of stain on some of the culms, but practicality (laziness?) won out and I just used the lightest shade I had. It lets the natural beauty of the bamboo come through I think.

Here's a comparison of untreated and treated culms:

So, was it worth the effort? I think so -- how about you?

I'm kinda wishing I had used multiple colors now...


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 1, 2015 at 10:08 AM)  

Wow, another thing that would NEVER have occurred to me. Brilliant idea.

Alan  – (October 1, 2015 at 2:43 PM)  

Gerhard: I had to do a test first since fresh bamboo culms have a coating that prevents most sealants from sticking. I suppose these were weathered enough to easily absorb the oils.

Lisa  – (October 1, 2015 at 7:09 PM)  

Are you kidding me? It's beautiful! And so absolutely clever!

outlawgardener  – (October 2, 2015 at 1:55 AM)  

It looks great just as it is but couldn't you still apply other stain colors to some of the poles if you wanted to? My first thought (big surprise) was to paint them red. Your idea is better.

Charlie@Seattle Trekker  – (October 2, 2015 at 2:00 AM)  

Bamboo has always interested me as a plant that would give my garden a bit of interesting punch, but I have been fearful of it's aggressive nature in my locale.

Alan  – (October 2, 2015 at 8:02 AM)  

Lisa: thank you!

Peter: The second coat of deck stain does not absorb well, so if I want to change colors I'll have to wait a year I think. Painting would have taken forever, and this was quick!

Charlie: They're much more aggressive here, but rhizome pruning solves the problem. I can't imagine my garden without bamboo!

Alan  – (October 5, 2015 at 8:33 AM)  

I should note that I'm hoping that a mild winter will allow this plant to put up growth that will help to hide the dead culms completely.

cole –   – (December 20, 2015 at 3:37 PM)  

Beauty from such a loss. They look great. I might do this with my tiny moso that topkills here in 5b every 3rd winter. Thanks for sharing.

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