Herbaceous Musings

Ode to Bamboo

This post is about Bamboo.  It’s more of a love letter really, because I am completely smitten with this plant.  Why you ask?  Well,  if it were simply about the swaying, vertical, elegant tropical/asian feel it contributes to a landscape, that would be one thing.  But there’s much more.

We all know that plants serve as fresh air factories, absorbing CO2 and emitting O2.  But did you know that bamboo absorbs 4x the CO2 of other plants?  And it produces 34% more Oxygen!!

With over 1,250 species growing from sea level to 13,500 feet, bamboo is found on every continent except the frozen poles.  Bamboo comprises a very diverse plant group, from groundcovers to tall timber varieties.

Yes, bamboo has a well-earned reputation for being aggressively invasive.  (Its root systems are so stable as to keep the ground together during earthquakes!) But many people are unaware of the equally available Clumping Bamboos, which grow in a very different way.  The rhizomes of clumping bamboo do not have the ability to spread indefinitely through the ground, so the width of the plant grows very slowly, making it perfect for our gardens.

My final requirement for a favorite plant is that it can grow here on Orcas, and bamboo does just that.  Thriving in the wind, impervious to deer, tolerant of the chill, pest-free and tough, it is a blessing to our gardens.  Plant Bamboo!

Local Sources for Bamboo:

  • Patrick Bennet (360) 317-8424
  • Bullock’s Permaculture Nursery  376-6152
  • www.booshoot.com  Booshoot bamboo nursery, Mt Vernon (wholesale only, but website is packed with info about bamboo!)

Local Links for Plants, Soils, Mulches, Tools and Services

I always look to my local sources first when searching for materials.  Below are some of the local companies I use and recommend:



Bullock’s Permaculture Farm Nursery–The Bullock brothers are an invaluable source for not only ecological hands-on know-how, but also for healthfully grown plants.  They grow a wide variety of nursery stock in fruit-producing and ornamental plants, including bamboo!  Call Sam Bullock at 376-2773


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