Saturday, August 02, 2008
I have gotten into my mind to plant some bamboo in a dark corner. It is an area I want to change so that it suggests a serene oriental-type garden intended for rest, meditation, and contemplation. The bamboo has to be a variety that is clumping (does not spread by running roots) and can tolerate: deep, dark shade; minus twenty degrees Fahrenheit temperatures (-29 C.); and will create a thick, tall privacy screen. Only one variety I have found fulfills those requisites: Fargesia nitida ‘Great Wall’.
When I sat down to order on-line from the computer in our basement, the big, bad, red words “Sold Out” appeared on the screen. “Oh, No!” - but at that time thinking I would need only to Google it and buy from another source, I trudged on. I REALLY would have thought ‘Oh, No!’ if I had known that was just the beginning of a long drawn-out quest.
I searched the Web and found a source in Oregon. I placed an order; we communicated back and forth a few times. Then the owner wrote that due to a great demand for the plants locally, and because his is a one-man, part-time, out of his home business, he would not be able to ship the order as he first thought he could. So, he politely and tactfully extricated himself from the deal and gave me a lead to another source which was a larger exclusively bamboo business that might be able to handle my order.
I emailed them then waited and waited. Silence. So, I picked up the phone and called them. The woman who answered the phone really knows her bamboo. When I told her what I wanted, she said, “Where did you say you live?” “Kentucky”, I repeated. She shot back, “It won’t grow there; it’s from the mountains of China, and it needs lots of shade especially from the afternoon sun.”
Then I told her where I had gotten their name and address as a referral, saying: “And, Mr. (name withheld) said it sounded like the perfect location when I described it to him!” We went on for a little and it became evident that even if she had the variety 'Great Wall', she had no intention of selling it to me.
She reminded me of the writer Gladys Taber. At their farm, Stillmeadow, they bred show-quality registered Cocker Spaniels. Each little warm body that was born there and all their parents were treated as carefully and as well as human babies. Gladys was known to refuse to sell a pup to someone – more than once. Friends said that it was easier to get into the D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution) than it was to adopt a Stillmeadow puppy.
I am still looking for plants guaranteed to be F. nitida variety ‘Great Wall’. Maybe they WON’T grow here, but I want to find out for myself. And, come to think of it - the invasion of spreading vines and shrubs from the adjoining properties that I am trying to stanch by planting bamboo is that detestable curse Euonymus fortunei (Winter Creeper) native to China and named for Robert Fortune, a botanist who collected plants from 19th century China; and the infamous shrub honeysuckle Lonicera maackii, commonly called Amur honeysuckle, an extremely invasive species from – guess where – China!
Who says gardening is mild mannered. I suspect quite an interesting battle would ensue between these species, if only I could find the Great Wall bamboo – which by the way, is not invasive.