I’m looking for a Bamboo that will grow in a cool (windy) maritime climate. Good to eat, or useful for construction. Doesn’t need to be huge, I’m thinking screens and shades rather than houses! We have almost constant rain, cool summers and mild winters. Technically zone 9 ish, but wet!
Preferably one that won’t take over Skye, but I’m pretty sure it will be borderline growing conditions here anyway, so I don’t mind a bit of vigour.
Anyone got good varieties to suggest? Thanks.
Have you seen any growing on the island? Does your local garden centre sell them? When you say construction, do you mean bean poles and simple trellis? I’ve seen construction grade bamboo in the tropics and stayed in houses built entirely from the stuff, but never seen anything like it in the UK.
Phyllostachys aurea - golden bamboo springs to mind. It’s a cold-hardy variety but can be highly invasive. My father-in-law grows it and it’s surrounded by lawn so regular mowing stops it spreading. I’m pretty sure it’ll grow on Skye but I don’t know if it’s edible.
I haven’t seen any bamboo on my part of Skye. I think there was some down at Armadale castle at the south end. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some in gardens on the mainland, including Attadale gardens which is a beautiful spot on Loch Carron. These would have been planted for primarily ornamental reasons though, not for the sort of use I have in mind (although pretty is nice too). I’ve never seen them at the garden centre either. I don’t tend to do much mowing. Do you know whether sheep eat it?
I tend to buy plants online, since the sort of plants I’m interested in tend to be a bit more unusual. When I’ve looked at bamboos they are pretty expensive (like £40) so I’d like to be sure they have a chance of survival at least!
I haven’t got a particular construction use in mind. I’m just thinking that strong straight canes are always useful, and the more substantial they are the more useful they might be. Probably furniture like chairs and shelving?
I’ll look up P. aurea and see what it’s like. We’re not particularly cold here, rarely below -5 Celsius, but rarely above 15 Celsius in summer either! There’s a difference between edible and palatable. There not much point in growing something that my hubby won’t eat, but we don’t need to eat it raw.
I don't know how cold it gets on Skye; however, there are plenty of cold-hardy bamboo species. Most are of medium size since the really big ones only grow in the tropics.
Phyllostachys aurea can withstand temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius. The foliage may get damaged at -12, but the leaves will grow back. It is edible but not very big. Depending on conditions, it will grow to a height of 6 to 9 meters. The nodes at the lower culm are close together, which gives them a gnarly appearance. It's ideal for trimming into a hedge to serve as windbreak. But the culms are not ideal for construction since they are too short and too thin at the top.
Many bamboo of the phyllostachys family can withstand minus temperatures of -20 to -24 degrees Celsius. Some can grow up to 20 meters. The tallest I have are now almost 15 meters, but they grow a bit taller each year.
That seems to be two votes for Phyllostachys aurea. That might be a good one to start with then. Thanks
As I said we are cool here rather than cold, but the damp in winter and cool summers make it a bit difficult for ,any plants that should shrug off the apparent temperature. The salty wind is another complicating factor for plant survival.
Yesterday I came across Phyllostachys Dulcis or Sweetshoot Bamboo, “is considered to be one of the best choices for producing large timber poles and delicious edible shoots at the same time”.
According to pfaf website hardiness map, you can in theory grow it on Skye. It likes moist soil, which I guess is something you already have. It can easily deal with the winters. Do you have a south facing sheltered area? Bit of a backwards question as people often grow bamboo to create sheltered micro climates. And I’m not sure how you’d create a micro climate for a plant that can grow 40ft high!
Kelburn Estate in Ayrshire have three types of bamboo, you could look up old newspaper reports on growing bamboo for the pandas in Edinburgh. Might find some info there, I think it's going to be the cold summers that are the issue rather than the winters, I've never seen a large bamboo here, only tiny little things.
Phyllostachys Nigra grows in Aberdeen decently so there will be something that works, just got to find it!
Simple answer - no. My holding faces east, the prevailing wind is from the SouthWest, although the North and East winds in spring are most likely to damage plants. However I do have some sheltered spots, but not particularly sunny. I have to generally choose one or the other and sunny sheltered spots are maybe reserved for more precious plants.
Thanks for the suggestion, I do rather favour edible (tasty) over structural. I note the description on Pfaf says the roots are quite shallow. Does that mean they might be suitable for growing on a leach field area? That is certainly as sheltered as anywhere. I'm thinking of planting more raspberries there at the moment. If they can be safely planted above drains, then our 'front garden' may also be a good spot. That is pretty sheltered and sunny. I've got an area of grass and nettles, since I'm expecting to dig it up from drains for our extension at some point in the next year or so
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