About 20 years ago, I saw my first Phyllostachys vivax in a pot at a nursery. Because the pot kept blowing over, large canes had been cut in half. The diameter of the canes was impressive so I happily took the plant home. It had no tag and didn't come with a warning. It grew happily in a pot in my former garden and came to this garden about 18 years ago but didn't get planted in the ground for a couple of years.
The interweb was not as advanced in those days and the garden books didn't say anything about barriers. The pot got planted in the ground and behaved so well for a few years that I assumed there was nothing to fear. I was told to just kick over the tender emerging culms where I didn't want them to grow. That works just fine but no one said anything about rhizomes continuing to grow further .
The clump soon filled in it's allotted space and then jumped across garden paths to emerge on the other sides. That too was okay but in the last few years, the beast has started invading a large sunny bed, growing around the pond where the rhizomes have caused some of the rock work to tilt this way and that, and seems set on growing into our old brick foundation.
Last year, I sawed down half of the grove and started a bit of rhizome pruning. The added light in what was becoming a very dark area was quite nice.
There's still a dark side...
"Oh, the Pain of Loving You."
The happy underground rhizomes grow fast and far. Here one is removed from beneath a bed of Pleioblastus viridistriatus another runner that gets cut to the ground each spring and fills in beautifully. This one is not as scary as the rhizomes are small making them easy to cut and pull up.
One of the many buckets of rhizomes that filled two yard waste bins.
Just to clear out the edge of this bed. The resident saxifrage patch was becoming less vigorous each year. I guess having hungry rhizomes beneath your roots will do that. So while sensible gardeners were out getting their plants in the ground, pulling weeds, and enjoying the sunny weekend, I was out digging out rhizomes which included having to remove and reset part of a brick walkway. Good times.
Any little piece left in the ground will send up little shoots. However, if not connected to the mother plant, the rhizome will eventually run out of energy and die if you keep cutting these down and providing food.
Another grove got cut to the ground last summer so now it's new sprout patrol for the next few years until I finally win the battle. Is it time to end the relationship with the timber bamboo grove or should we continue together? Eliminating it would take some time, a ton of work, and look horrible for a couple of years but it could be done. (Might be easier to simply sell the house and move.)
In other bamboo news, Hibanobambusa Tranquillans, another running stunner to only about 14 feet, had gotten way to crowded, tall, and also wanted to take over the world so down it all came. this also allowed greater access to the Hedera helix taking over the rotting wood fence behind the bamboo.
This will be allowed to grow back in the one area as the new growth is so beautiful.
We won't even mention Sasa tessellata mostly because it's now called Indocalamus tessellatus which pops up everywhere. How can one not enjoy that huge foliage? The mites sure like it. One of the reasons I grow so many plants in pots is because much of my soil is filled with various bamboo rhizomes.
One might think that I would learn a lesson yet when I saw Phyllostachys vivax aureocallus, in it
went. So now, there are about ten varieties of bamboo growing in my garden. On the bright side, it is evergreen and feels a bit tropical.