Bamboo gets a bad rap. And Seattle native Stan Andreasen, aka “Stan the Bamboo Man,” understands why.
“It’s a terrible plant—I mean you have to really, really watch it,” he warns.
Which means he must be hypervigilant at his Greenwood abode, home to his small bamboo nursery, Beauty and the Bamboo. Previously a massage therapist, Andreasen, 56, entered the bamboo biz 23 years ago, after buying three pots of bamboo (golden, black and Japanese timber) for his perennial garden and soon finding himself swimming in stalks. He dug them up, divided them and started selling. He has since learned to love the “mysteries of bamboo,” including rare varieties, and why sometimes the mother plant shoots up stalks of a different color.
Seattle soil is perfect for the fast-growing flora (“It’s got sand, it’s got clay, it’s got rocks,” Andreasen says), which is why he educates customers about the importance of root barriers, aboveground planters and pruning new shoots in spring. Another advantage of pruned shoots: If they haven’t been sprayed with insecticide or fertilizer, Andreasen says, you can eat them raw (for “a little nip in your tastebuds”) or sauté them in butter and garlic, for a less acrid flavor. Unless he’s out in the wild, however, Andreasen resists this taste temptation. “If I ate my shoots here, I’d eat my profit,” he says.
Need to Know:
1. Andreasen’s favorite bamboo is the moso variety, which can grow 30–40 feet tall in Seattle. “They arch gracefully at the top,” he says, and can be used to make a variety of products, from textiles to wine.
2. “In China, they say when there’s an earthquake, run to the bamboo, because it won’t fall to the ground,” Andreasen reports. But for him, the joy of bamboo is being able to share it (especially rare varieties) with others.
3. For further bamboo viewing, Andreasen recommends the Seattle Chinese Garden at South Seattle Community College, where the Northwest chapter of the American Bamboo Society holds its annual festival April 25–26.