Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Salix koriyanagi 'Rubykins'

This is the second post in a series about my willows.
Salix koriyanagi 'Rubykins' is at this point my favourite willow variety.

In my field, growing in very heavy - wet to moist - clay they grow to 7-9 feet in one season. The rods are slender and sway gracefully in the breeze, showcasing the beautiful colours of the leaves.
According to Christopher Newsholme in his book Willows, The Genus Salix, Salix koriyanagi is of Korean origin and is extensively grown in Japan for fine basketry. I am not sure, however, how commonly it is cultivated for basketry in North America or Europe, but I really like the plant and the dried rods are flexible and of a light grayish green colour. As I used pretty much all my harvest last year of this variety for propagation, I am looking forward to working with it next spring, both as dried material for weaving and for living willow creations. This is the variety that I used for the harlequin woven tree in "Repairing the Willow Tree". This is what it looks like today, standing in front of the barn:
In the field 'Rubykins' stands tall and healthy and this year's new planting will already at the end of this growing season deliver a few, shorter, very slender rods usable for some fine weaving.The photo is from September 1st and the plants have grown a bit since then.

Rubykins is very easy to recognize in the field with it's unique colours and appearance. The branches are glabrous pale green with leaves dark green above with an almost white mid-rib and glaucous underneath. The leaves at the tips of the branches are pinkish, copper like in colour.