Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today


NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


Plant Profiles

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Big-leaved Bamboo

After a winter that brought the coldest temperature in thirty years, it's no surprise that the foliage of big-leaved bamboo has long turned completely tawny. I.e., it's dead. Spring is the trough in the annual cycle of bamboos, when such dead leaves are still being shed reluctantly, and new canes and foliage have yet to emerge.


Goodness knows that my colony of big-leaved bamboo—which shares the narrow bed between the gravel driveway and the north wall of the house with a gold-leaved forsythia, now coming into flower—looks quite bedraggled. Way back in February, the enormous leaves had become fully "parchmented," i.e., died. They are still not fully released from the canes. I'll be picking them up far and wide in the garden for months; bamboo is nothing if not a diligent litterer.


Indocalamus tessellatus overall from the side 041818 915


The normal practice is also the practical one: clean up in one fell swoop by cutting all the canes to the ground now, before fragile new canes emerge. The new crop of canes and leaves will begin shooting in May and June, and by July and August, the colony's bulk is restored.


Though their leaves are dead, when cutting down the canes, it became obvious that many or even most of them were still green. 


Indocalamus tessellatus thicker cane showing green 041818 915


What about cane tips? These are covered by the overlapping sheaths of those dead leaves. Peeling back the sheaths of one, I could expose the underlying cane. It was still green.


Indocalamus tessellatus top slender cane showing green 041818 915


Viable bamboo canes can produce another crop of foliage. How are those of Indocalamus tessallatus at doing so?


Indocalamus tessellatus top slender cane showing green 041818 closer 915


Just as important, are some cane tips dead despite the protection of the leaf sheaths? The leaf sheaths hide the tips so, in that case, I would discover dead tips only by their increasing contrast to the releafing live ones. How unsightly would they be amid that rising tide of new growth?


The way to find out is to conduct the experiment. The left half of the colony extends nearly to my white coffee cup but isn't visible above the groundcover ivy because I cut it to the ground. The right half remains untouched.


Indocalamus tessellatus after half coppicing 041818 915


In May, new canes begin emerging; by July June, they will have matured to full height, as well as be fully-fledged with foliage. What's the time-line for emergence of new foliage on the bedraggled-but-alive canes formed last year? Plus, new canes will emerge among those still-in-place old canes, not just where I had cut them to the ground. Could the result by high summer be that the right-hand portion of the colony is both fuller and bulkier?


Stay tuned for the next report.




This winter brought some episodes of severe cold. Here's a picture of the colony's foliage in mid-February, by which time it had become completely tawny. 


Here's how the colony's foliage, mostly green in January, had become more and more parchmented by late March during the comparatively mild winter of 2013.


Here's how good the big-leaved bamboo foliage looked in January of 2013, when the winter was still mild.


Here's how to grow big-leaved bamboo.

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