"…only now can we hold in our hands a complete book about growing bamboo in America, written by an American who has actually grown bamboo in his garden." Those words were written by someone who should know --- Susanne Lucas, the president of the American Bamboo Society. She goes on to say, "This book constitutes perhaps the most comprehensive assimilation and synthesis of research on bamboos, including the most recent research papers, of any bamboo book intended for non-scientists…. It tells how to buy bamboo, how to propagate it, how to harvest edible shoots, how to control its spread, and how to get rid of bamboo when it overtakes its bounds."
Yep --- Bamboo for Gardens is truly one of a kind. I say that while comparing it with three other bamboo "classics." Spread out in front of me are Bamboo World by Victor Cusack, Bamboos by Recht & Wetterwald and The Book of Bamboo by David Farrelly. While Bamboo World has the best information on building with bamboo, it was written for and by Australians. Bamboos by Recht & Wetterwald was first written in German, and strongly addresses European concerns. Granted, much of it is applicable to North America. The Book of Bamboo is a marvelous book, but it is beginning to show its age (1984.) It has a sparse twenty-two pages on temperate bamboo species, and no photographs. Bamboo for Gardens has 139 pages (!) of just individual species information, with a generous amount of color photographs --- many of them full page. No written description can compare with a good color photograph. And the photographs in this book are top-notch. They include close-ups of interesting culms and distance shots of gracefully arching tops. They were obviously picked with care by a gardener to show other growers what to expect. Note --- the author took all the photographs! On pages 206 and 207 is an incredible sequence of pictures showing exactly how to quickly remove the edible portion of the shoot. I can guarantee you that's not in any other book and it is visual wisdom!
Because it is written in an engaging style by a fellow gardener (not a scientist), I found myself reading with relish sections which I realized later were quite technical. This book is a must-have. I was shocked that the price was so reasonable. I am personally recommending it to everyone I know.
Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, 2001, (800) 327-5680, www.timberpress.com, 0-88192-507-1, 406 pages, drawings and color photographs, hardback, $39.95