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Bamboos evoke an exotic atmosphere wherever they are used ? unfortunately, they are too often kept out of our gardens for fear of their invasive qualities or lack of hardiness. In truth, these elegant grasses, encompassing both woody and herbaceous forms, can achieve dramatic yet restrained effects in a range of climates. Their uses include both the ornamental, offering striking foliage and culms, and the practical, such as for screening or erosion control, not to mention the culinary treat of bamboo shoots and ...
Bamboos evoke an exotic atmosphere wherever they are used — unfortunately, they are too often kept out of our gardens for fear of their invasive qualities or lack of hardiness. In truth, these elegant grasses, encompassing both woody and herbaceous forms, can achieve dramatic yet restrained effects in a range of climates. Their uses include both the ornamental, offering striking foliage and culms, and the practical, such as for screening or erosion control, not to mention the culinary treat of bamboo shoots and the structural qualities of the culm wood. Tropical and subtropical bamboos present many possibilities for landscapes in warmer climates, while the hardier species can be grown as far north as Minnesota in the United States and in the cooler climes of England and continental Europe. Bamboo culture has a long and distinguished legacy in East Asia, but much remains to be explored by Western gardeners and landscapers.
Bamboo expert Ted Jordan Meredith provides a thorough and multifaceted treatment of these ancient grasses, covering origins and history, structure and form, cultivation and propagation, landscaping, and taxonomy and identification. He offers insight into selecting the right plant for the right situation, and presents useful advice on the best methods for containing or eradicating potentially invasive forms. The bulk of the book is an encyclopedia of bamboo genera, species, and cultivars. More than 300 bamboos from 40 different genera are described in detail, including information on size, lighting and temperature requirements, native range, physical characteristics, and landscape and other uses. Meredith's excellent color photos and clear line drawings effectively illustrate both the details and broader effects of these exquisite plants.
Bamboos are members of Bambusoideae, a subfamily of Poaceae. The great diversity of Bambusoideae bespeaks a long period of highly adaptive development. Bamboo forms include delicate, fernlike, tropical, herbaceous plants, perennial groundcovers, shrubs, vining climbers, and arborescent timber bamboos. For our modern world, these enduring grasses offer us great beauty and utility.
At least 90 genera and 1200 species are distributed throughout the world's temperate, tropical, and subtropical regions. A highly diverse member of the grass family, bamboos grow from sea level to high mountainous regions. Some groundcover bamboos reach a height of only a few inches and can be mowed like a lawn. At the other end of the scale are timber bamboos that live up to their name, growing like timber and forming towering forests. These giant grasses are harvestable for construction, paper pulp, and food. The uses for bamboo literally number in the thousands.
Bamboo is a principal defining element for many traditional cultures. Bamboo is shelter. It is food, and the means to acquire food. From womb to tomb, bamboo is the source of both physical and spriritual sustenance-the fiber of life.
Bamboo also offers many benefits for modern societies. Among them, bamboo is a prodigious and radpidly renewable source of fiber. Even as the world's forests and habitats rapidly decline, bamboo offers some solutions. As yet, however, this offer is largely unheard, and bamboo itself is at risk in many parts of the world, from unmanaged use by dense populations and from indiscriminate land clearing. The destruction of land and habitats in South America is most heinous. Some species have already disappeared from the face of the earth forever.