The winter - so far - has been mild with weather conditions changing almost daily. During January we had temperatures ranging from 15 degrees Celsius to -17 (+ the effect of the wind chill), sunny days, rainy days, snowy days, very windy days and a few days like today starting out looking like a dense snowstorm, then suddenly more and more blue appearing in the sky with bright sun and temperatures just above freezing. The snow probably won't stay long this time either.
These conditions have made it possible for us to start harvesting the willow already and we are now taking orders for willow cuttings and rods. Delivery can take place anytime you wish until the end of April. If you order - and receive cuttings before you are ready to plant them - don't worry, they will keep just fine wrapped in dark plastic and stored in your fridge. Prices and information about availability and kits for living willow trees can be found at the top of the page under "Cuttings and whips"!
The fairly wet snow coming down this morning blanketed and hugged the willow in the garden. Beautiful!
The smaller willow Salix eleagnos (often called rosemary willow, but it isnot Salix rosemarinifolia) has narrow green leaves resembling the leaves on rosemary. Cuppiced each year the shrub grows to a height of about 75cm (under 3 feet) and I grow some as a low, natural hedge. The winter bark on S. eleagnos i very dark brown almost black with dark red bud scales.
The trunk of the woven willow trees lend themselves to some beautiful snow covered images. Salix x acutifolia is a more vigorous willow, its first growth in spring a bright wine red with almost lime coloured new leaves. Later the foliage colour gets a bit darker, but the branches stay a wine red colour during summer. As the leaves fall the colours of the bark change to a dark purple, almost black. The following year the bark on last years growth develops a bloom that gives them a whitewashed look. Older bark is black as seen on the image on left.The branches on the image to the right show winter bark on one year old shoots.
A woven or twisted tree looks especially
beautiful in this variety of willow and grown as a shrub in the garden it ads beautiful colour year round.
Salix alba 'Sericea' has intense dark orange coloured winter bark. As other alba hybrids it tends to grow with lots of side branches (even when coppiced) so it is not the best willow to grow for basketry. It is great though, to have a few bundles of rods to ad some colour variations to certain baskets. For that purpose I have to cut the side branches off for use as weavers - and I only get a few for my own use. It is far too much work!