Fulfilling a dream of reforestation

As Published in the:  Santa Rosa Press Democrat

By Nick Walden / Towns Correspondent

Andy Kimes in his own private bamboo jungle (Nick Walden / The Press Democrat)Andy Kimes, 64, of Cotati, had a vision of planting one million trees over his lifetime when he was younger. Fourteen years ago, a discussion with a friend helped change the course of his life resulting in a combination of two passions that has produced contentment and fulfillment as he helps to bring privacy and serenity to others through bamboo cultivation.

“I have always been a bamboo lover,” said Kimes, who grew up in Petaluma. “I took it with me to Costa Rica back in 74 when I had a farm down there totally off the grid.”

When he returned to the states he started growing the plants as more of a hobby. Kimes, who had spent time up in Washington around Tacoma working on a tree-planting chain gang before his sojourn to Costa Rica, had a vision of planting one million trees over his lifetime. At the time when he came back to the states, cultivating bamboo was a way to keep working on that dream.

At a birthday party to celebrate his fiftieth year, Kimes was talking with a fraternity brother from his days at the University of Southern California who had a nursery business. He helped him turn a hobby into a business by mentoring Kimes about business practices for the nursery business.

Bamboo 2In 2000, Kimes opened the doors to Instant Jungle Babmoo and Palm Nursery. He has had his current location on West Railroad Avenue in Cotati, for seven years, which is itself a small jungle.

“When we first bought the property is was just an open field and now it is a vibrant green space with amazing diversity,” said Kimes who noted the addition of birds, foxes and other animals. There was even a mass migration of thousands of Starling birds that swarmed around the jungle for a few weeks.

According to someone from the Audubon Society that Kimes contacted, it was something they had never seen before.

The Bamboo Jungle is comprised of 50 varieties of bamboo along with 15 types of palms spread across six acres. The bamboos are a mix of “clumpers” and “runners” that are the most stable varieties for the specific climate of Northern California.

“People really like them for screening a privacy,” noted Kimes. “They fit well in narrow space between yards and they can get tall which are great for small yards.”

Bamboos and the palm trees both have a small footprint with large green masses that make them useful for both commercial and residential uses. “When you compare them to other trees in the area, it is just a different look and they are self-pruning,” he added.

Bamboo 1Bamboos are some of the fastest growing plants in the world that has over 10 genera and 1,450 species worldwide. Additionally bamboo can capture large amounts of carbon dioxide which they generate and convert into oxygen. A stand of bamboo can release up to 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees and they also cause less soil erosion along with keeping up to two-times as much water in the watershed.

“Really this has allowed me to live out my youthful values in unforeseen ways,” said Kimes. “The opportunity for turning a hobby into a business is a love for me. An added benefit is that people who use bamboo tend to be some of the nicest, wonderful people you could ever hope to meet.”

Kimes uses his website as the primary portal for business along with word of mouth. The site offers a glimpse into the wide variety of plants he carries. While some customers have landscapes perform installation, he also enjoys the chance to work directly with customers.

“I love being in people’s gardens all over Northern California and seeing all of these amazing settings,” he said with a big smile. “Everyone has their own special way of making their home unique from San Jose to Mendocino. It is really fun to see it and be a part of it.”

Instant Bamboo Jungle also provides staging for events such as local graduations where they need to transform the interior or exterior of a space.

“Bamboo is a great way to re-green the environment,” said Kimes. “When your hobby turns into this thing you can’t foresee, it is just a real fun thing.”

Welcome to the Instant Jungle Nor Cal nursery!

We feature 60 varieties of bamboo and around 15 types of palms, including cold-hearty varieties. We provide excellent service and will consult with you regarding the best plants to meet your needs.

We have 4 nurseries in southern California which helps us bring a vast assortment of product and amazing pricing.We offer both running and clumping bamboo and provide root barrier for the running bamboo to contain it.

We specifically offer plants that are well-suited to the northern California climate. We sell to landscapers, designers, and home owners. We are happy to consult with you to help you make the right selections so that your project is successful.

Come visit us and see our beautiful nursery and talk to Andy or Jesus about your needs. It’s best to call before you arrive in case we’re out on a delivery or doing an installation.

Address: 503 W Railroad Avenue, Cotati, Ca 94931

Phone #  707 794-8292

Fax #       707 794-8293

Hours:      Mon-Fri 8:00-4:30 Sat by appointment


We deliver to the entire bay area and do installations when needed.

Thank you for visiting our website and our nursery!


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