My sister and I can attest to the pesky bamboo that grows up here in Maine. It's invasive and not very attractive having only a short flowering season. I think what I don't like about it the most is the mess it leaves behind and especially in the early spring. Bamboo dies back to the soil and the new growth pushes it's way through the tangled web it left from the winter before.
All of my photos were taken on October 25, the above picture depicts the variety I'm talking about. While I was researching bamboo I found some of the rhizomes can spread five feet in one season! Goodness!
Imagine my surprise when my mother-in-law mentioned to me that sometime in our travels she would like to get some pencil bamboo. Pencil bamboo?
Well, I'll be...I thought the tall, pretty, grass like perennial, with a maroon colored feather flower, was an ornamental grass, nope, bamboo. Not just any bamboo, a "clumping" bamboo, the non-invasive kind that doesn't need a solid barrier wall to contain it. In fact, this kind spreads slowly, and unlike the first kind which is brittle, the pencil bamboo seems to be very sturdy. My research indicates that early Asian residents used this kind of bamboo to make letter openers, Abacuses, and fishing poles. It is particularly beautiful when vine wrapped and I suspect this is the choice for the green garden stakes we are all familiar with.
I eventually led myself the the American Bamboo Society where it was really difficult to determine the exact name of this bamboo, but I feel fairly sure it is from the Fargesia family. A lot of bamboo are edible in the early stages of growth, and while I can't be certain this is one you can eat, it's REALLY beautiful. It sprouts a dark green and tops out with a delicate bloom that reminds me of a ostrich feather with the flumes facing one side of the stalk. It's very impressive in a gentle breeze, it's high enough to appear top heavy and all of it will sway the same way. NBS indicates all bamboo is ornamental grass. Huh? I was surprised. It also states seeding starts at 15 years, and/or up to 60 years and everything in between, after that the specimen dies.
One professional landscaper and author, who lives in New England and uses bamboo in his business, wrote about an elegant feeling attributed the Chinese poets. Poets who stand in groves of bamboo live intimately with it. They compare it to near-human qualities while meditating to wind rustling the foliage.