About a week ago, my Yahoo home page had an article from the online version of the Wall Street Journal that was sensationally titled something like “A Plant that Comes with Jail Time,” or some such thing.
It may have gotten folks’ attention, and if it did, that’s a good thing because bamboo is really no laughing matter. I tweeted about it at the time, but the matter really needs more than 140 characters–and even then I put out 3 tweets.
The article was primarily about running bamboo, a plant which has now been banned in my home state of Connecticut. That may sound extreme, but I remember back in my retail gardening days, we had a lovely stand of yellow bamboo on the property where I worked. Customers would ask about it and I was always very careful to note that the owner had sunk a concrete barrier 3′ into the ground to assure that the bamboo would remain contained. Folks were decidedly less in love with the plant after I mentioned that and I never did sell one plant.
Around that same time, however, a so-called clumping bamboo, a fargesia, which had been planted on my property before I got there, began to “run,” or send out runners. Since this was not supposed to be technically possible, I was completely un-amused. I immediately dug the plant out, got as many of the roots and runners out as could, bagged it and disposed of it in the trash, not the compost pile (heaven forbid!).
For 5 years, runners continued to come up in the yard and only vigilance kept them under control and finally completely eliminated them.
Now I am surely not dealing with anything like walls of bamboo like the running kind produce, nor am I having to dig it out with a backhoe. But I wanted readers to know that even the so-called “clumping” types of bamboo don’t stay put and don’t play nicely with others.
Interestingly enough, I replaced the bamboo with a native plant, northern sea oats. It’s a lovely grassy plant; however, its seed heads do self-sow rampantly around in my nearby gardens. And they are just about impossible to remove. I suppose I need to think of them as I do they asters that I so love–with deep tap roots to aerate my heavy clay.
But should that plant ever die, the next thing that’s going there is a sculpture or a bench!