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



In January, the foliage of big-leaf bamboo was still laughing at Winter—or, at least, in its noisy rustling in the wind, chuckling about it. By late March, the party's over. The enormous leaves have relinquished much of their water, turning parchment-white in the process.


Alas, the process doesn't proceed from any known design-first philosophy. Small interior sectors "go parchment" in no particular pattern, leaving the healthy green of the surrounding leaf unimpaired.




Other leaves resign more decisively, losing all of their green at the same rate. See the center leaf that's slanting to the lower right? It's a solid tan-green, and will progress to pure parchment. The "parchmenting" process of Indocalamus tessellatus is too random to be attractive; it's just an increase in entropy (i.e., mess) in a season, Winter, that is quite messy enough already.


Another bamboo, Sasa veitchii, "parchments" with stunning uniformity: The outer half inch (or so) of all the leaves promptly turns parchment in the Fall, leaving the inner portion green through the Winter. The look is so tailored, so lively, and so enduring that the species is grown primarily for this cold-weather, parchment-and-green display.


By early Spring, the show is over for both bamboos. If your colony is small and its canes are few, you could, I suppose, groom each stem to remove its parchmented leaves. Old stems can grow new crops of leaves for several years. But it's easier by far—and more fun—to cut all the canes to the ground without worrying which might still be retaining better foliage.




The canes are thin, and cut quickly even if (as is the case with me) your pruners are shockingly dull. By May, new canes will shoot up with remarkable speed; they're not called "shoots" for nothing. By June, they'll have regenerated the entire colony's bulk and then some.


Here's how good the big-leaved bamboo foliage looked in January.


Here's how to grow big-leaved bamboo.

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