What Lies Within. Why We Planted a Giant Pot of Bamboo.

We’re working with a client who thinks about the big picture in her gardening.  Including unpleasant stuff and what happens in the distance; the production and disposal of plants.

We’re a perfect fit.  I often lament that the “green industry”, which should be a part of the solution, is often a part of the environmental problem.  Water waste, overuse of chemicals, noise and air pollution; these issues are sometimes out of site and too easily out of mind.

In this garden, we get to considered every detail.  One problem stumped me.  We needed a large specimen tree for privacy. But large plants often contain and slowly release bee killing chemicals.

Within many plants produced in huge nurseries, the cells contain residue of toxic pesticides.  Chemicals applied to the roots of plants, are soaked up and active in the entire plant for some time to come.  Do you remember when, as a child,  you put celery in blue water to see the stalk change color?  Systemic chemicals work like that but last a long time. When the flowers open, the toxins are in the pollen.  On bee pollinated plants, bees get the pollen and the toxin builds up in the hive, contributing to colony collapse disorder which is killing bees across the world.   Called neonicotinoids, these chemicals seem to be safe to people; we depend on them for pest control in food, fruit and even flea control. There’s tons of information on the web about them.

The bigger the plant, the bigger the problem.  But we needed a big tree, an immediate privacy screen. I asked several big tree growers, but no luck finding a big flowering tree, pesticide free. The solution for this garden seemed to be a plant that had been treated but was wind pollinated: a conifer. I was ready to compromise.

But a 6:00 a.m. text from the client said,”no compromise!”   She was watching the sunrise on a Puerto Rican beach.  And worrying about the damn bees.  Thank You Ma’am for keeping me on track.  I thought of her sitting in the tropics and I saw the perfect plant.

Bamboo.  Elegant, tall, evergreen and tough as nails, so there was a good chance of finding a nionic-free specimen.  I checked in with a friend who specializes in large size bamboo and found a pesticide free specimen.

The ottoman sized pot of Bambusa texitlis weighed 400 pounds and the plant in it stood over 20 feet tall.

Phase one of loading the big guy.

Phase one of loading the big guy.


Part of packing; the entire plant was swaddled in a soft cloth which was stitched together for protection.

Part of packing; the entire plant was swaddled in a soft cloth which was stitched together for protection.

How are we going to move this thing?  Here’s a little video of us moving and planting at 400 pound, 20 foot tall clump of graceful bamboo (Bambusa textillis)

Just After Planting

Just After Planting

And this is what we hope it will look like in after a summer.

A mature privacy screen of Bambusa textilis 'RG Dwarf'

A mature privacy screen of Bambusa textilis ‘RG Dwarf’

(If you are concerned about bamboo, please read about responsible bamboo selection and planting in Deep Rooted Wisdom: Lessons and Stories from Generations of Gardeners)

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