This blog is a record of my plants and garden projects. I have two gardens. One garden is in my backyard in New Brunswick (zone 4b). It is just a small plot of land but it is filled to the max and changes quite a bit each season. The second garden is at the cottage in Prince Edward Island (zone 5b). This property has over 100 acres and an infinite amount of potential. At this site I am working on the much larger landscape projects and it contains a large collections of trees, bamboo, and shrubs. I am most interested in hardy bamboo and japanese maples. I hope you enjoy my blog and maybe you might learn a little from my experiences and mistakes.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fargesia dracocephala 'Rufa'

Rufa is currently the most available bamboo in the Maritime Provinces. It has been carried at Sobey's, Home Depot, MacCarthur's Nursery and many other nurseries over the past few years. Although the hardiest Fargesia species are nitida and murielae, Rufa is the easiest to find.

I have a few different Rufa plants in a few different locations. I'll update you on the progress of these plants over the past few years.

Rufa is the earliest shooting bamboo I have. It begins shooting in late April or early May and often begins breaking the soil level under the snow cover. It is a clumping bamboo and slowly spreads out over the years. It is one of the only bamboo in the north to shoot more than once in a growing season.

Fargesia rufa - Bamboo Select tissue culture plants
Tissue culture has enabled some bamboo to be propagated quickly. Usually bamboo is propagated through division and this is time consuming and labour intensive. Since many bamboo only flower every few decades or more, seedlings grown plants can be rare.

Generally, I have heard some negative feedback from tissue culture Fargesia plants. My tissue culture nitida and murielae have been slow to size up and show marginal hardiness so far. The rufa plants have been quite impressive.

If the bamboo are protected from winds, they may not defoliate over the winter. I have a few pictures below to highlight this point in Prince Edward Island (zone 5b).

Rufa A is in an exposed position. If there is not enough snow cover to insulate it, the wind and cold dessicate the leaves over the winter.
Summer 2011

Winter/Spring 2012

Rufas B and C are down in a small ravine and are more protected from the wind but also from the Sun. They are all tissue culture plants but B and C came through winter much greener.
Summer 2011

Winter 2011

Winter 2011

Spring 2012

Summer 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Garden Statues and Props

Garden statues and props often enhance settings but are quite tricky. Too many and the garden becomes tacky, none and the garden is not reaching its potential. I have a few different stone ornaments in my garden in Moncton. They are small in size and therefore fit the proper scale of my small garden. Larger gardens require larger ornaments or they often just get overlooked.

This was a setting I created in 2010

Here is the use of an asian inspired lantern.

In this shot you can see a small lantern near the pond and a stone bench to sit and watch the fish.

This isn't a permanent fixture but can often be found keeping cats away from the fish.

Kew Gardens had some mega sized props to balance its mega-sized setting.

My only larger ornament is the pergola. I built it at the cottage in PEI with the help of my Dad so that I could get married under it. After the wedding, I disassembled the pergola, brought it to my house in Moncton and re-assembled it in my yard. It provides some cover from the Sun, some vertical interest with the wisteria vine and a small sanctuary like feeling when laying in the hammock.

I'll need to invest in a nice sized ornament of some sort for the garden on the island.

Fargesia denudata

I was lucky enough to go to Kew Gardens in the summer of 2009. I was just getting into bamboo at the time and I didn't really appreciate their bamboo specimens as much as I would today.
I still took some pictures and saw a few bamboo I knew I wanted to try. Fargesia denudata was a nice looking bamboo.

Imagine my surprise when I actually sourced one at a garden center off the highway in Nova Scotia. Bamboo are extremely rare on the East coast of Canada. Home Depot sold some Fargesia species (tissue culture) for a couple years and that's about it. The plant tag said zone 5 but I knew better. The books I had rated it hardy to -22 degrres Celsius or so. I knew it would probably defoliate in the winter.
Summer 2010
I really started to question the hardiness when I noticed leaves browning up shortly after temperatures just below zero. Considering its age and how little time it had to establish itself, I thought maybe those factors and the site location (fairly dry) may have contributed to its poor hardiness. Time will tell with bamboo.

Spring 2011

Obviously it was totally fried after the winter. I didn't have much hope, but it shot up new culms in the Spring and leafed out nicely. I would say a little smaller in size than the original planting. I thought that after a full season to get established, it may improve its hardiness.

Summer 2011

Winter 2011 - after temps of negative 17 degrees Celsius. Total culm death again. We will see what happens next Spring.
In general Fargesia species have done quite poorly so far. They are painfully slow to upsize and shoot very late in the season. EXCEPT for rufa. Fargesia rufa has done extremely well, holding up to temperatures beyond its hardiness rating.

Only time will tell if denudata, murielae or nitida will finally get going and upsize.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pseudosasa japonica

I guess the price was right. That's why I purchased a bamboo that was clearly not hardy in my zone. However I wanted to have bamboo that represented as many different genera as possible.

When the plant arrived in the Spring of 2010 it was not very impressive. I grew it in a pot and it sized up pretty well.

Mini Gardening

I have always liked the look of mosses, club mosses, liverworts, hornworts etc... Anything small, green and tuff as nails.
When it comes to identifying these things I have not a clue where to start. Well, I guess that's not true. My wife's uncle is actually a moss indentification expert in Ontario. I should probably send him a couple pics.

I really like the texture of different miniatures. They usually really display how many different shades of green there really are.

I started by getting this shallow terra cotta pot. They are terrible pots to have in Canada. The freeze and thaw cycles usually destroy them in a couple years. I simply peeled chunks of different miniatures from anywhere I could find them and then let them fill in the spaces.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Highlights of my small garden. Zone 4b

I thought I would just post a bunch of pictures of some plants and different views of my small garden in New Brunswick. The garden is not very old but it has come a long way in 3 years. It started like this.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bamboo in Italy

I was lucky enough to spend a couple weeks in Italy this summer. We spent a week in a villa in a small town an hour from Florence. Bamboo was on my mind before I left because my plants were shooting but I had no expectations of finding bamboo in Italy.

On the country roads heading to the villa, I noticed a few stands and a couple small groves of bamboo in farmer's yards. None of the bamboo was overly huge but it did get my hopes up. I guess the thing to remember is that despite my addiction to the plant, I have never actually seen any mature Phyllostachys plants anywhere. It's funny how you can get so wrapped up in a group of plants based on descriptions in books (Hardy Bamboos - Paul Whittaker), websites ( and blogs (It's Not Work It's Gardening).