The many varieties and hybrids of Salix alba offer beautiful "sunshine" colours for the winter garden.
Salix alba 'Chermesina' click image to enlarge
Salix x rubens 'Hutchinson's Yellow' click image to enlarge
Salix x rubens, Hybrid Crack Willows, are hybrids between Salix alba and S. fragilis and they hybridize readily in nature.
The seasonal changes for 'Hutchinson's Yellow' are very much the same as for the above 'Flame' and they both have beautiful red bud scales on the dormant rods. Looking at the plants up close, it is difficult to tell the difference. From a distance, however, the overall winter colouring is darker, reddish for 'Flame' and more yellow, orangey for 'Hutchinson's Yellow'.
Salix x 'Red Corkscrew Willow' click image to enlarge
The corkscrew willows have become very popular for floral arrangements and are available at most floral suppliers. If you'd like to grow your own, it is very easy and you don't need to have space in your garden for a big tree. When you coppice the plant in early spring, you'll end up with 5-7' long curly branches by fall and they will develop beautiful colour when dormant. There are different varieties yielding different colours.
Some Salix alba varieties have flexible rods and are also used for basketry. The yellow colours are attractive, often used for contrast although the colours change drastically during the drying and subsequent soaking of the rods. Sometimes the rods are woven before they are completely dry and still flexible enough for weaving which often results in work keeping more of the original colours.