Friday, August 6, 2010

Bamboo Beauty

Bamboo is one of the things that take my breath away and bring me to a profound place of quiet, beauty, simplicity and serenity. If you've ever been in a Bamboo Forest you likely know what I mean.

Today I'm taking you with us (my client-friend and I) to a wonderful Bamboo nursery called Bamboo Giant in Freedom, Ca. (south about 10 miles of Santa Cruz, CA)

We are in search of several varieties of Bamboo for the Edible Japanese Style Garden that we are creating in their front yard. (Stay tuned for a future post on this garden.) As a landscape designer using green-organic practices, with a love of Japanese gardens and an interest in designing more mixed edible landscapes, this is a wonderful project which I have the privilege of participating in. In this case my friends/clients are long-time mentors in all things related to beauty.

Nancy particularly loves Black Bamboo, as do I - however I was concerned this running variety would not do well in her micro-climate - an already very hot spot in San Jose, CA with reflected heat from concrete. Sure enough, Black Bamboo is one of the Bamboos that does much better with some shade, but we will be wandering around the beautiful grounds of this nursery in search of other varieties with the cultural inclinations needed, that have dark culms (the reeds of the Bamboo).

Black Bamboo

Black Bamboo Forest growing in

Everywhere you look in this beautiful demonstration nursery there are wonderful photographic opportunities... like this old wooden wine vat. I wondered what the story was here... but being focused on our mission I dropped that particular question for the day... sometimes a photo opportunity is just that...

Old Wine Barrel

Old Wine Barrel

Bamboo Giant Nursery is composed of several sections (garden rooms) linked together by trails and several Bamboo Forests, often with signage to let you know what you are viewing. It is both a demonstration ground and a nursery and as you can see, a wonderful way to experience many different kinds of mateur Bamboo grown in large scale. There are Bamboos from all over the world in different sections. It is a family run business and they have been working on this property for many years. Each time I visit, there are new developments on the property. It has obviously been a work of love. It is open to the public and a great place to visit.

Coming out of a forested area, we came upon a clearing with this beautiful scene...

Its as if we had stepped into an Asian Tropical Paradise!

The photos below are a tropical specimen we happened upon. This tree was brought in before the current owners and the staff does not know what it is. I've done some research and haven't yet discovered what it is. I have some thoughts - possibly in the Ficus family, but if so, have not discovered the variety. Any thoughts?

One noticeable characteristic of these grounds are the sustainable elements. Much of the hardscape is made with recycled concrete. With all the moisture in this area (close to the ocean), moss has grown onto it and it looks quite natural - like its been there for a long time. Various hardscape materials are mixed allowing for subdued but different textures.

Natural stone has also been mixed with a man-made material.
Here an example of a large boulder set with broken pieces of concrete...

Searching for the possible substitutes for Black Bamboo that can take lots of sun, here is what we found that day at this nursery. None of these are black, but they are rich dark, striking shades...

'Borinda' is a clumping variety...

'Tibetan Princess' is also a clumping variety...

'Temple' is a running Bamboo...

We decided the growth habits of 'Tibetan Princess' and 'Temple' will work best for the two areas we have in mind, but 'Borinda' was wonderful as well. Some varieties of Bamboo change in form as they mature. Its good to keep this in mind when you are looking for Bamboo and do some research on it before you decide on a variety. If you have a designer, that work will be done for you.

Bamboo 'Robert Young'

There are clumping and running varieties of Bamboo and they have different growth habits and so different siting needs, as well as different treatments for planting depending on your space. This is another important element in deciding which Bamboo works best for your space.

What have been your experiences with Bamboo?
Do you use it in your landscape or designs?
What are your favorite varieties?

Please feel free to post your comments below. Just click on the link below that says 'Comments'.
You can also subscribe to this blog, and find out other information in the right hand column.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. What a beautiful post, Judy! I've never been to this nursery and must visit sometime as it's truly stunning! What a selection - no wonder you love it so much!

  2. Oh Rebecca, you will love it!!! Its like having a little oasis/mini vacation just to visit. A great stress reliever in between book writing mania :)

  3. Thank you Judy for writing a wonderful post about our Nursery here. It makes me so happy to help spread the joy and beauty of bamboo. The Nursery is open 7 days a week and we love it when people just come to enjoy it, to take walks around the trails, or stay and eat lunch in the picnic area. Thank you Judy and please everyone come enjoy the beauty of bamboo!