A new Bamboo Forest is coming to Hoyt Arboretum. Off of Fischer Lane, the .36-acre site will feature 25-30 species from around the world and will create the largest global bamboo collection in the Northwest. The Bamboo Forest will allow Hoyt Arboretum Friends to offer classes in bamboo identification, maintenance and Asian art, and create much needed song-bird habitat. Through interpretive signage, the myriad uses of bamboo will be highlighted as well as the wide variety of historical uses by Native Americans.
The Bamboo Forest is a project of Hoyt Arboretum Friends and Portland Parks & Recreation and is made possible through a generous donation from Janice Stewart and Gordy Allen through the Allen Family Foundation. Additional support comes from Bamboo Garden Nursery and the Pacific Northwest Bamboo Society. The project is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2017.
People are often concerned about how bamboo can spread and take over an area. With bi-annual pruning of the running rhizomes by arboretum staff and volunteers, the species that spread via runners will be contained by being planted in a berm or surrounded by a trench of sand and soft soil to allow for easier pruning of the runners. Our Bamboo Forest will also contain clumping bamboo that does not spread via runners. Additionally, there is a roadway surrounding the Bamboo Forest that will serve as a barrier. Bamboo can be controlled with proper maintenance, just as one would trim a hedge or prune a tree.
Conservation - Giant Cane Bamboo (Arundinaria appalachiana) is one of only three species native to the United States. Only small patches remain in the wild due to clearing for agriculture, thus making cross-pollination nearly impossible. The Bamboo Forest will also create choice song-bird habitat making it a feast for the ears as well as the eyes.
Education - Featuring 25-30 species from around the world, the Bamboo Forest will allow Hoyt Arboretum Friends to offer classes in bamboo identification, maintenance and Asian art. Visitors, especially children, will be fascinated by witnessing several species actually growing inches per day. School children will be encouraged to conduct classroom science projects in the collection. Through interpretive signage, the myriad uses of bamboo will be highlighted as well as the wide variety of historical uses by Native Americans such as medicine, weaving, food, weapons, construction, etc.
Collaboration - In addition to educational collaboration with schools, the arboretum will partner with the Oregon Zoo to provide cuttings to feed the animals. Stocks from the cuttings will be offered to local artists to use in their artwork, some of which can then be purchased in the Visitor Center Nature Store. The Pacific Northwest Bamboo Society, which holds their annual festival in Hoyt Arboretum, will support the project along with the Bamboo Garden Nursery and Portland Parks & Recreation.
Visitor Interest - Hoyt Arboretum previously featured a bamboo collection, but it was removed for two reasons: it was not thriving in its location along Johnson Creek, and the creek’s banks required restoration. Visitors continue to ask to see the collection and show a particular interest in bamboo as a fast growing sustainable resource used in myriad ways including clothing, building materials, paper and food products.
Representation - Bamboo is an important plant that is not currently represented in the form of a collection in the arboretum. At .36 acres, there is no other global bamboo collection of this size in the Northwest.
Display - Bamboo is dramatic and beautiful, both visually and aurally. The forest will contain 25-30 species of various types and sizes of plants - from 2’ to 45’ tall - from around the world. A trail will be cut into the collection allowing visitors to view the plants up close and learn about each of the species. A small creek currently runs through the site and will create a small pond in the center of the forest. This water source will have a functional use in providing water for those species that like “wet feet,” and, if funding allows, a water feature or sculpture will enhance the beauty of the pond. Strategically-placed rock features will be added for character and dimension.
Timeline - The Bamboo Forest will be completed in 2.5 to 3 years. Steps include landscape design, clearing and excavating the site, preparing the soil, installing an irrigation system, planting large plants followed several months later by smaller plants. Once the plants are established, the pond, paths and interpretive signage will be added. As the forest matures, various plants will be added as needed. The project is scheduled to be completed in summer of 2017.
Support - The budget for this project as outlined is $20,000 - $25,000. Hoyt Arboretum Friends has received a gift of $20,000 from the Allen Family Foundation, which has made this project possible. The Pacific Northwest Bamboo Society will support the project through volunteer maintenance and possible funding. Portland Parks & Recreation will supply labor and some materials, the Bamboo Garden Nursery will support the collection with 50% reduced rates for plants and services, and Hoyt Arboretum Friends’ volunteers will support Parks staff with labor for planting and maintenance.
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