But they'd be wrong, according to bamboo buff Jerry Burton, owner of Burton's Bamboo Garden, tucked away down a long gravel road on 22 shady acres in Morrow.
Also among the mistaken would be those who think bamboo is restricted to tropical Asian climes; those who think it grows like a tree, flower, shrub or ornamental grass; and those who think that "lucky bamboo," prevalent in offices and dorm rooms, is authentic (it's actually a draecena plant).
"[Bamboo] is just not the garden bad boy it's made out to be," says Burton, an ex-Marine who worked in the insurance industry before he became a bamboo farmer.
tends the gardens with his
son Zach, 26.
says, is just misunderstood.
"It's not invasive," Burton
insists, preaching to a group seated in the poplar haiku house he
and Zach built, where almost-daily formal tours begin next to a peaceful lake dotted with Asian art and statuary.
Though thought of as an Asian plant, there are actually more bamboo species grown now in South America, according to Burton
And their only enemy is a harsh wind, so Burton
suggests planting on the leeward side of a building.
started investigating bamboo after a Cincinnati couple gave him a starter plant when he
gave them a pair of mute swans shortly after he
moved to the quiet of Morrow from Cincinnati.
In 1998, he
set out to learn all he
could about the sustainable plant, even visiting the Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens in Savannah, Georgia - a premier location for education, public outreach and applied research in horticultural and environmental sciences.
In 1982, he joined the American Bamboo Society and began the Mid-States Chapter in 2001.
Along the way he
developed an interest in Asian statuary and structures, and he
collection at the farm.
Today, Burton reels off tongue-twisting names and spellings with ease and is the go-to guy for advice for parks, gardeners and universities, even growing bamboo for red pandas at several northern and western zoos.
"Ninety-five percent of people want bamboo for a privacy screen to block out the neighbors, or a shopping center, using it as an alternative to fencing," he
But it can also be used as groundcover.
Planted properly, a stand of bamboo will fill in thickly within two to three years.
The secret is planting the right type for your needs and keeping it contained.
"It just has to be done correctly," Burton