March 27, 2012

Borinda papyrifera for a London Courtyard

Borinda papyrifera was originally collected by Chris Stapleton from the slopes of Mount Zi Ben Shan at around 3300 m in the Yunnan province of China. New culms are a powdery blue-white aging to olive/yellow. Tan culm sheaths are large and hang from the plant in obtuse anglese. Typically reach over 5 metres, the stems diameters may be over 30mm. Here you can see it just a couple of months after planting and already there are a significant number of new culms on their way.
Bamboo in london CourtyardSo what makes this plant the perfect bamboo for our gardens?
Borinda papyrifera is well behaved. It is clump forming but non-invasive, unlike phyllostachys nigra, for example. This means that you could use it in a relatively small space and it would be easily containable. Not only is it well behaved but it is also very quick growing so you can get a strongly architectural effect within a few years only.

Large stems of borinda papyrifera

Notice also the fantastic colouration – an ice blue gradually turning to olive. The habit is also a great combination of erect and arching. The new growth being truly fastigiate and then as it ages becoming more arching in character. It’s not uncommon to see the two habits combining as in the image below

Erect and arching stems of borinda papyrifera

The culm sheaths are also full of character as already mentioned, hanging from the stems at obtuse angles and then gradually falling away

Obtuse culms of bamboo

The leaves are a mid green and of a medium size.Unlike some of the bamboos we see in this country, borinda papyrifera is reasonably shade tolerant and copes well with the strong winds we often experience in this country – something that phyllostachys nigra is not noted for.

So there you have it, borinda papyrifera is a handsome, well behaved and architectural plant ideally suited to our British climate. Added to which, not many people know about it, or at least they didn’t until now!

Bamboo in London courtyard at night