THE Bamboo is a genera! favorite with all lovers of beauty of form in plant life. It is an evergreen indigenous plant belonging to the grass family. The Bamboo delights in a light, rich soil, a well-sheltered situation and plenty of water at the roots during the growing season, but stagnant water is fatal to it. The bank of a perennial stream and the side of a sheltered lake or pool, where the crowns are planted a foot or two above the water level, are ideal spots for the growing of the Bamboo, while a good mulching of well-rotted manure once a year encourages the plants to send up strong and graceful stems. The more sheltered they are from wind the better; especially must they be protected from our strong Summer west winds. A background of our native Pinus insignis or any deep-green tree or shrub, shows off the Bamboo to very good advantage, or, if a more graceful combination is desired, the Bamboo can be mixed with the Birch, and the effect will be most pleasing, especially if the golden-stemmed Bambusa aurea is used and the group is a large one.
In planting the Bamboo in groups, it is inadvisable to plant the strong rampant growers, such as Arundinaria Metake, etc., along with the more flexible Phyllostachys henonis or any of the non-suckering species, as the spreading rhizomes of the strong growers will run into the roots of the more delicate kinds, rob them of their required sustenance and eventually starve them to death.
For single specimens on the lawn in sheltered nooks, the Arundinaria falcata is one of the most graceful; it grows to the height of about twenty feet, each stem drooping gracefully from the center and forming a very pleasing effect.
The Bambusa family is divided into several sections. The Arundinaria has a straight round stem which the branches nearly encircle. These appear simultaneously along the whole length of the stem, and at each joint, the sheaths of the young branches being carried until late in the season, this giving a rather unkempt appearance to the plant; Arundinaria Simonii and Arundinaria Japonica seem to carry them much longer than the other species.
The Phyllostachys, on the contrary, begin to open their branches at the lower end of the stem and gradually develop them upwards. The Phyllostachys also, instead of having a perfectly round stem, have a double furrow along the stem, this being caused by the pressure of the branches against the stem while in a soft state.
Propagate by division of the roots and by cuttings. The best time to propagate the Bamboo by division of the roots, which is a very simple process, is in the end of March. The plants should be taken up and divided into small clumps of two or three stems each with their jointed roots attached (there being left as much earth around the roots as possible) and planted about two feet apart, in good, fresh, light loamy soil. They should be given a good watering and a mulching with half-rotted manure. They may be planted at once where they are to remain.
Propagation by cuttings is effected by taking up the underground stems, or rhizomes as they are called, in March or April, cutting them into lengths of from six to eight inches, planting them in light sandy loam, about four inches deep, and giving them water as required. See that only roots of the previous year's growth are used as all older rhizomes will be failures, only the young rhizomes being reproductive.
Among the species which thrive well and are perfectly hardy may be mentioned the Arundinaria falcata, Arundinaria Hindsia, Arundinaria Simonii, Arundinaria Japonica, Phyllostachys aurea, Phyllostachys henonis, Phyllostachys nigra, Bambusa marmorea, Bambusa quadrangularis and Bambusa palmata while many others are worthy of a choice place in our gardens.