RENEGADE GARDENER

The lone voice of horticultural reason

Not Bamboo!

I’ve just written an eleventh tenet of Renegade Gardening: When you give out gross misinformation on your Web site, admit it. Plus a twelfth tenet: When forced to impose the eleventh tenet, blame the neighbor who gave you the misidentified plant.

Actually, Dave’s not at fault. I just want to thank the good folks at the American Bamboo Society who visited the site, huddled, e-mailed me a few more questions, huddled again, then notified me of their findings: that’s me in the picture, all right, but I ain’t standing within a hundred miles of bamboo.

Yes, you’ve been bamboozled (as if I could resist that one). Please go easy on me. It’s not like I asked you to slip into your Nikes and wait for the comet.

What we got in the picture is Polygonom, that may or may not have the common name Japanese Knotweed (I’m not taking any more chances). The head of the northeast chapter of the ABS sent me a list of eight reasons the plant pictured could not be bamboo (Phyllostachys), from leaf size (too large for hardy bamboo) to stalk texture (would be brittle, this stuff isn’t) to growth characteristics (the plant in the picture—my rare Jap Knotweed—reaches its height in about eight weeks. Northern bamboos only grow up for three weeks, then out for the rest of the season).

But some cool stuff has resulted. Yes, there are a couple of bamboos we can grow in Zone 4. And as a new member of the NE Chapter of the ABS, I’m getting one in the mail!

My apologies for the misinformation. Do check this link to the ABS to find out more about hardy bamboo. And keep an eye on me, will you?

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener