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Bamboo for Gardens

By Ted Jordan Meredith

Foreword by Susanne Lucas

Surely the best all-around and certainly the most up-to-date treatment of these curious grasses.

American Gardener

Bamboos evoke an exotic atmosphere wherever they are used — unfortunately, they are too often kept out of our gardens for fear of their invasive qualities or lack of hardiness. In truth, these elegant grasses, encompassing both woody and herbaceous forms, can achieve dramatic yet restrained effects in a range of climates. Their uses include both the ornamental, offering striking foliage and culms, and the practical, such as for screening or erosion control, not to mention the culinary treat of bamboo shoots and the structural qualities of the culm wood. Tropical and subtropical bamboos present many possibilities for landscapes in warmer climates, while the hardier species can be grown as far north as Minnesota in the United States and in the cooler climes of England and continental Europe. Bamboo culture has a long and distinguished legacy in East Asia, but much remains to be explored by Western gardeners and landscapers.

Bamboo expert Ted Jordan Meredith provides a thorough and multifaceted treatment of these ancient grasses, covering origins and history, structure and form, cultivation and propagation, landscaping, and taxonomy and identification. He offers insight into selecting the right plant for the right situation, and presents useful advice on the best methods for containing or eradicating potentially invasive forms. The bulk of the book is an encyclopedia of bamboo genera, species, and cultivars. More than 300 bamboos from 40 different genera are described in detail, including information on size, lighting and temperature requirements, native range, physical characteristics, and landscape and other uses. Meredith's excellent color photos and clear line drawings effectively illustrate both the details and broader effects of these exquisite plants.

Awards for this book: Council on Botanical and Horticultural Literature Award, New York Times Editor's Choice - Best Books for Gardening

Media reviews

"From ground covers to timber types, Ted Jordan Meredith, author of Bamboo for Gardens, knows his subject."


"A bamboo bible rather than simply a gardening manual."

Science News

"Will help gardeners understand the practicalities as well as the aesthetics of bamboo gardening."

—Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times Book Review

"Meredith’s approach perfectly suits this objective, with engaging personal experience illuminating comprehensive coverage of the subject at hand. The book’s attractive format opens the door to the usefulness and beauty of bamboos, presenting a vast range of possibilities to enhance a garden or landscape. Meredith’s fine resource offers clarity and enlightenment to new and experienced gardeners alike."

—Alice Joyce, Booklist

"This leading handbook in this specialized gardening subject has a catalog of innumerable kinds of bamboo with color photos, descriptions, and points of interest."

Small Prees Book Review

"A wonderful reference for both the confirmed and the up-and-coming bamboo geek."

—Ketzel Levine, Plant Talk

"A comprehensive look at the largest and most spectacular member of the grass family ... Offering the gardener or landscaper a broad and user-friendly introduction ... Illustrated with beautiful color photography."

Ecology Action Newsletter

"Be warned: Meredith's bamboo world is so appealing that you might refuse to come back to the mundane landscapes of "ordinary"–that is, non-bamboo–plants ... We expect a renaissance in bamboo utilization, due entirely to this book."


"All interested in Bamboo should obtain this book. There is certain to be surprises in store for you ... It is quite simply a very good book."

—John E. Bryan, Gardening Newsletter

"This is certainly an excellent book on the landscape uses of bamboos."

Agroforestry News

"This is a landmark, in that a book on growing bamboo for Americans by an American has finally been written. I would not be without Bamboo for Gardens, and would recommend it to both the newcomer and expert alike — it is a required read."

—Ian Connor, Bamboo

"Really want to know about bamboo? This is the book to get."

—John Van de Water, Newark Star-Ledger

"Surely the best all-around and certainly the most up-to-date treatment of these curious grasses ... Both a good introduction and a worthy guide."

—Jim Waddick, American Gardener

"For anyone interested in learning about bamboo, this is the book to have."

—Kym Pokorny, Oregonian

"This book is for the knowledgeable and for those unfamiliar but interested in learning about and possibly growing bamboo."

—R. Cox, California Garden

"Bamboo for Gardens is a full treatise on bamboos and falls into the category of "reference book" for gardeners — the kind of book Timber Press does so well."

American Rhododendron Society Journal

"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 to hear the price was so reasonable. I am personally recommending it to everyone I know."

—Clear Englebert, FungShway.com

"Mr. Meredith deals with all of these issues in a way that will appeal both to the practical gardener and to the academically trained botanist."


"A terrific bamboo book."


"Another winner from the folks at Timber Press. THE definitive guide to growing bamboo in American gardens, and worth every penny."

—Michael Weishan, GardenworksOnline.com

"Sufficient documentation and relevant consultation with specialists in these grasses give extra value to this publication."

—Zulma E. Rúgolo de Agrasar, Plant Science Bulletin

"This book is sure to expand your horizons as a gardener. If you live where bamboos are perennial grasses, you should have this book on your shelves."

—Diana Pederson, Suite101.com

"Easy-to-read chapters cover bamboo's origin and history, structure and form, cultivation and propogation, landscape uses and maintenance, and taxonomy ... The author sets the record straight on this much-maligned plant. The book is a reference of value."

—Rachael Green, American Reference Books Annual

About the author

Ted Jordan Meredith

Ted Jordan Meredith has written books on viticulture, enology, wine appreciation, garlic, and bamboo. His Bamboo for Gardens (Timber Press 2001) was awarded the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Literature Award and The New York Times Editor's Choice for Best Books for Gardening, and his The Complete Book of Garlic: A Guide for Gardeners, Growers, and Serious Cooks (Timber Press 2008) has become the standard reference for garlic enthusiasts. When a housing development suddenly took away his privacy, Ted became interested in bamboo as a beautiful, rapidly growing, evergreen screen. He quickly became captivated by bamboo in all of its aspects and began to grow, research, and write about bamboo. A native of Montana, Ted recalls the daring use of fresh garlic in the family kitchen. In later years, as his interest in cooking grew, Ted enthusiastically incorporated garlic into much of his cuisine but initially regarded garlic as a supermarket commodity with little distinction. It was at a farmer's market that he purchased a few heads of a Rocambole garlic, 'Spanish Roja'. Ted realized then that all garlic was not the same, and he never looked back, voraciously exploring a new-found world of hundreds of cultivars in nearly a dozen different horticultural groups. Ted and his wife garden and grow bamboo at their home in Washington state. In addition to writing and photography, Ted enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, and music.

Read more about Ted Jordan Meredith

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