While the hot, rainy weather this August may have caused all but the most diehard Floridians to seek refuge in air-conditioned rooms, the bamboos loved as much heat and humidity as they could absorb.
Ralph kneels beside two emerging shoots of vivax, a running bamboo. Vivax is a slow runner - that's not an oxymoron - with canes that will eventually grow to a diameter of 5-6 inches
It is during these steamy, hot days that you will see above ground bamboo growth. For most of the year, the roots of these giant grasses are steadily growing underneath the soil without any visible proof that much is happening. Only when the weather warms up - during late spring for running bamboos and early summer for clumping varieties – can you truly see signs of growth.
A close-up of the intricately patterned and curly tip of a new vivax shoot.
It is then that cone-shaped new shoots pop through the ground looking much like asparagus spears in a giant’s garden. In the short period of two to three months, those baby ‘boos will skyrocket to their full height – up to 70’ tall for some varieties.
Sherry stands next to two-week-old vivax shoots.
A few days ago, I had a call from one of our customers. His bamboo had been in the ground for several months and he wanted to know what was happening to his plants. Several tall stalks had appeared but they didn’t seem to be leafing out. Had he done something wrong, he wondered.
The tall stalks he saw were this year’s new growth. Although it takes a short time for new canes to reach their full height, it takes much longer for them to leaf out. Bit by bit over the next few months the leaves will unfurl, culm covers will fall off and the new canes – usually thicker and taller than last year’s growth - will take on the same appearance as their older counterparts.
Now is the time - as the flush of summer heat subsides - to enjoy the beauty of contrasts. One plant – two looks. For a short time, bamboo provides the best of both worlds – the promise of what’s to come together with the pleasure of what is. If that isn’t poetry in motion, what is?
A young clump of Asian Lemon Timber Bamboo (Bambusa eutoldoides viridi-vittata) sends up new shoots that are taller and thicker than last year's growth. Asian Lemon is a large-caned cold-hardy beauty whose bright yellow canes are accented by wide green stripes.