Visiting Tradewinds Bamboo

Earlier this month, I traveled south to Brookings, OR with two friends. While they were busy with other things, I had an opportunity to backtrack to Gold Beach for a quick tour of Tradewinds Bamboo. And I do mean quick. I spent somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour there, though I would have loved to spend more time. Gib, the owner, gave me a whirlwind tour of his amazing collection, and as I didn't have much, if anything, intelligent to say (I was too busy gawking and drooling) we moved fairly quickly from one plant to the next. I also felt guilty making him stand there while I took photo after photo. I was hoping for overcast skies, but instead the bright sun made for harsh photography conditions that required more time to adjust for from one shot to the next. But anyway, let's move right into the good part: photos!

A view down the path on a wooded slope. A form of Chusquea culeou on the right, with the dense, tight clump of Borinda lushuiensis visible further down the path. 
The rest of the photos are in alphabetical order by scientific name, as that's how they loaded and it seemed just as logical, if not more so, to present them this way as opposed to the order in which they were taken.
The thicker culms belong to Borinda albocerea Yunnan 3, the smaller, yellow culms to a Chusquea. I had originally intended to leave with one of these Borinda for sale, but car expenses caused me to cut back on my plant purchases. 

Borinda lushuiensis, a large clumper with culms over 2 inches in diameter and over 25' tall. Sadly, it's only hardy to about 15 degrees F, at best, and most sources report closer to 20 degrees F.

The base is remarkably narrow, only 3-4 feet on this tall plant. And the new culms are a beautiful blue.

Dainty foliage completes the picture on this beautiful clumper.

Borinda macclureana is a bit more arching, but nearly as large as lushuiensis, though it almost completely lacks any blue color on the new culms. I should have asked if Gib ever trims his to make it more upright. Unlike lushiensis, this species has proven reliably hardy to 10 degrees F.

The title of best blue, I think, belongs to Borinda papyrifera, another that has proven tragically tender in all but the mildest Pacific Northwest gardens 

Not the greatest photo, but this is Borinda yulongshanensis, another reliable Borinda for zone 8a. This species is still relatively new to cultivation in the US and even in mild Gold Beach it looks like it's just starting to really size up. 

A bit blurry, but you can see some purplish blue color on the largest new culm. 

Here's that open-growing form of Chusquea culeou from the first photo at the beginning of this post. This species is highly variable in both form and hardiness.

A volunteer seedling of Chusquea culeou (weeping form). I did at least attempt to moderate my envy at the thought of volunteer Chusquea seedlings.

A mature specimen of Chusquea culeou (weeping form). I know, not very weeping, is it? I think it's called that because the foliage weeps a bit more than usual, though the culms are perfectly upright like other forms of the species.

Chusquea gigantea showing some reddish color on new culms exposed to the sun.

Chusquea gigantea is one of my favorite clumping bamboos, because the culms are spaced more widely than in most clumping bamboos, given a grove-like effect without the risk of a new culm popping up 5-20 feet away.

Gib has planted quite a few Dicksonia antarctica in the woods with his bamboos. Treeferns and bamboos, it doesn't get much better than that.

Fargesia robusta 'Wolong' with decorative culm sheaths against the blue-green culms.

The masses of relatively large leaves give 'Wolong' a much more weeping habit than the more common 'Campbell' form of robusta.

With incredibly dainty leaves, Himalayacalamus asper gives a very lacy effect in the woods and looks at home with native sword ferns.

If you haven't noticed, I have a thing for bamboo with blue culms. Himalayacalamus hookerianus starts out blue and ages through green to gold.

Himalayacalamus hookerianus with Dicksonia antarctica. Yes, please!

Himalayacalamus porcatus shows promise for pale blue/white culms with larger, more tropical-looking leaves than the previous two species.

Another example of an open clumper: Oldeania alpina hails from Africa and is only hardy to about 20F. This is a beast of a bamboo. Formerly known as Arundinaria alpina and Yushania alpina.

Last but not least, Thamnocalamus crassinodus 'Mendocino' has dark blue new culms supporting very fine foliage. It can be killed by multiple hard winters below 15F, but should be safe in zone 8b.

Of course, anytime a garden blogger visits a nursery, they must answer the question, "What did you buy?" I left with (clockwise from upper left) Chusquea culeou 'Cana Prieta' (first photo leaves, second photo culms), Sasa kurilensis 'Shimofuri', and  Sasa nagimontana.

Gib has excellent prices. Unfortunately, I didn't send my wishlist in advance so he didn't have time to treat the plants I purchased for bamboo mites. I've had them under quarantine since bringing them home and have been treating them regularly with neem oil. Since they're so small, I can search each leaf individually for any nests, scratch off the dense webbing that protects them, and completely coat each leaf with oil for maximum impact. This week I'll be adding in a systemic miticide to get any remaining mites (though I haven't seen any nests for a couple weeks) and in the case of the two Sasa species, I'll cut off their foliage and burn the leaves. I normally don't get so worked up over garden pests. As long as they don't seriously impair the appearance or health of a plant, they're usually not worth the effort to control in a large garden. Some natural predator will come along and do it for me. Bamboo mites, however, require a draconian, total eradication approach for anyone like me who wants to trade with others. Before these plants go anywhere near other bamboos or into the landscape, they'll have to be 100% mite free. Of course, the smart thing to do would have been to leave the plants behind, but I was too weak. I'm looking on this as gaining first-hand experience in mite control and a life lesson. By the time I'm done with them, there won't be a mite in sight.


  1. Wonderful selections, Evan! I've come to appreciate bamboo far more than I used to. I passed through a bamboo "forest" at the Huntington just last week and marveled at the sense of mystery it created. If only I had another few acres...

    1. If I lived in your climate and didn't have acres to grow on, I'd grow one of the Otatea, especially O. fimbriata, or one of the smaller Bambusa multiplex cultivars. Bambusa ventricosa will stay around 6 feet if kept on the dry side and the Buddha belly culms it's known for will be more pronounced. Those are all clumpers and more drought-tolerant than the ones in this post, though they still need some summer water. They don't have the same feel as a whole forest of running bamboo, but they do have their own charms.

  2. Beautiful stuff. I share you appreciation for Chusquea gigantea because of the grove-like effect. That would be the main reason to grow bamboo, if I ever did. You are lucky to have the space for it. Where will you plant those and will you still do it before winter?

    1. I plan to keep the Sasa kurilensis in a container, though I'm tempted to try it in the ground. I will plant the Sasa nagimontana out this fall once I've finished treating it and confirmed that it's clean of mites. The Chusquea will wait until spring for planting. I'll put it in the greenhouse during hard freezes. It's one of the hardiest Chusquea, but it has some young culms that I don't want to risk damaging by planting it so late.

    2. Merry Christmass, Evan, and a happy new year. Hope you have wonderful adventures in the garden in 2018.

  3. As a true afficiando, you are beginning to see distinctions that mere mortals overlook. Little by little, you may succeed in bringing us along on your journey of discovery.

  4. Great bamboo report, Evan. I don't usually see those blue culm bamboos, so I particularly appreciate you pointing them out. I CAN SEE WHY YOU WANT THEM! And many thanks for that info about the bamboo mites! (So much to learn...never a dull moment!)


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