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Bamboos


For convenience, the three genera Arundinaria, Bambusa, and Phyllostachys are placed under this heading. Although for many years a few Bamboos have been grown out of doors in some parts of the country, and been made to play a really important part in garden decoration, very few good gardens being now without a collection.

While recommending the planting of Bamboos, it must not be thought that they are suitable for any and every situation; far from it, for they are essentially shrubs which must not be planted indiscriminately. The reason for this is that, while few things are greener or more attractive from July to March, the same cannot be said of them from March to July, a time when most trees and shrubs are at their best. During this off time the foliage is usually brown and unsightly, the period being that during which the old leaves are falling and the new ones growing. For this reason it is advisable to give Bamboos a corner to themselves rather than spread them about all over the garden.

When forming a plantation care must be taken to provide shelter from north and east winds, for, while they will stand severe frost without injury, cutting north and east winds play havoc with the leaves, especially in March. As regards soil, any that is fairly rich will do, as they thrive in both light and heavy lands. At the time of planting decayed leaves mixed with the soil will be found advantageous. When well established an annual top-dressing of well rotted dung is of great service. The best time to plant is May, just as the new culms are being pushed up. Any pruning should take the form of thinning out the old growths. When this is done care must be taken to cut the old canes right to the root­stock, for if left 6 inches or 1 foot above the ground they choke the young culms. The work is best done in May.

Propagation is usually effected by division. If the clumps are broken up into small pieces they should be potted and placed indoors until established; if, however, the pieces are large and well rooted they may be put in their permanent positions at once. May is a good time to divide, but if there is plenty of houseroom the work can be done in March.

When forming a Bamboo garden it is desirable to have it in the vicinity of water, for, in addition to Bamboos being peculiarly adapted for planting on the margins of lakes or streams, they are naturally water loving, and require abundant supplies in dry weather. When placing in position give plenty of room, so that when fully developed each specimen will stand clear of its neighbour.

Flowering Bamboo. - As a rule the flowering of Bamboos is disastrous, for, if they do not die outright, they linger on in such a shabby state that one would rather throw them away than keep them. It is usual that when a species begins to flower in one or two places it is soon heard of as blossoming all over the country. When flowering does take place a keen look-out should be kept. for seeds; they germinate readily, and soon make good sized plants.