- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My neighbors planted some bamboo on their back property line, and it is gorgeous. It was green and gorgeous all winter, and it’s gorgeous now. I have no bamboo, and I’m green with envy.

Also, because the deer have taken up residence in my corner of Montgomery County, I have a new appreciation for bamboo and all ornamental grasses — which deer don’t eat. This year I am determined that I, too, will have some beautiful bamboo.

Knowing there are hundreds of varieties, I called a friend, Linda Waters, for some expert advice. Linda works for the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service’s Master Gardener program. (www.agnr.umd.edu/ montgomery/mghome.htm).

I asked Linda whether she was getting a lot of calls from gardeners who want to grow bamboo.

“We get a fair amount of questions about bamboo — mainly about how to get rid of it,” she said.

She added, however, that she does have an information sheet that includes information on both growing bamboo and getting rid of it. Following are some of the bamboo basics this sheet describes.

• There are two kinds of bamboo: running and clumping. The running kind spreads quickly and is inclined to invade gardens where it is not wanted — some varieties can spread more than 100 feet from the mother plant in a short time. Clumping bamboos are much more friendly to the home landscape. “They can be used as specimens, screening or the low dwarf types as a ground cover. Bamboos are especially attractive when planted next to a pond or stream.”

• If the running type is chosen, perhaps to create a quick-growing screen, it can be contained by sinking a physical barrier “of copper, stainless steel or concrete, buried a minimum of 3 feet deep in the soil.”

• If you have invasive bamboo and want to eliminate some or all of it, you can do so by cutting it to the ground and then cutting back new shoots. “In Maryland, bamboo has a distinct period of shooting, March through May. If cut back at this time, new shoots will not grow.”

Otherwise, let new shoots develop foliage and then spray them in October with a nonselective herbicide containing glyphosate. Repeat in 14 days.

• Many bamboos need a warmer climate than we have in the Washington area, so our selection is limited. The Maryland extension service recommends four running types (Pleioblastus viridistriatus, Phyllostachys aureosulcata, Sasa veitchii, Shibataea kumasasa), two clumping types (both Fargesias) and two dwarf running types (both Pleioblastus ). Most take sun to part shade. Some have black or brown stems, some are variegated, one is edible. If you are serious about purchasing bamboo, inquire at reputable local garden |centers.

If you want to order bamboo by mail, I recommend you first visit the Web site above and get a copy of Linda’s information sheet.

• • •

The annual spring Flower Mart will be held May 6 and 7, starting at 10 a.m., on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral. Fifty boutiques will be set up on the lawn, offering flowers, herbs, other garden items and food. Admission is free, as are entertainment and activities for children. While you’re there, tour the cathedral’s gardens and the cathedral itself.

The festivities will continue, rain or shine, until 6 p.m. May 6 and 5 p.m. May 7. For information, call 202/537-3185.

• • •

Among the activities planned at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton is a sculpture show and sale under way through Friday amid the winter-spring display of colorful and fragrant plants in the conservatories. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call 301/962-1400.

• • •

A series of lunchtime tours through Bartholdi Park will be held from noon to 1 p.m. several days this month and next. Personnel from the nearby U.S. Botanic Garden will lead the tours. Bartholdi Park is a tapestry of theme gardens surrounding the historic Bartholdi fountain. The tours — set for April 19 and May 3, 17 and 31 — are free, but pre-registration is required. Call 202/226-4082.

• • •

Perennial expert Dave Culp of Sunny Border Nurseries in Connecticut will speak at a free seminar at 1 p.m. Saturday at Behnke’s garden center in Beltsville. He will discuss the best perennials chosen by growers over the years and describe improved varieties now available. Registration is required. Call 301/937-1100.

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