Sunday, April 25, 2010

Workshop fun!

We had three workshops here in April and I believe that everyone - not just me - had great fun. I met some really wonderful fellow gardeners, people enthusiastic about doing something different and I have received a lot of positive feed-back.
My friend, garden writer, author Yvonne Cunnington posted about her woven willow creation on her blog. Garden writer, editor and Master Gardener, Lorraine Flanigan was spreading the word about Living Willows at a presentation at Bolton Horticultural Society. Claudette Sims, a  Halton Master Gardener would like to be able to show fellow master gardeners some willow workshops next spring. Judy and Caroline are arranging a group visit here later and I have several people expressing interest for next year's workshops already.
Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki' (Japanese Dappled Willow) was a popular choice of variety for the twisted tree.
'Hakuro Nishiki' is a beautiful willow at all stages. The photos show (from left to right) how the foliage changes during the summer. When the new leaves start to unfold, they are a tender cream and green (sometimes a pinkish white), but then, for about 4-6 weeks in June-July, the tips of the shoots are a stunning pink. We have even had hummingbirds hoovering at the plants, thinking that they were flowers to feast on. Later in the summer the leaves are green with big splashes of creamy white and some coppery tones on some of the tips of the branches.

Salix x acutifolia - shown on these photos - was also available for the twisted tree. The bright colours on willow stems are only showing on new, one year old branches. On most willow varieties the older branches turn various colours of green or brown, but this one is quite different. The photo on the left shows the dark burgundy colour on the rods just after harvest in the spring (so they are still one year old). Soon after the new growing season starts, a white bloom is covering the stems and they stay like that for the rest of the season to turn almost black come spring. The photo on the right is a close up of the plant in summer - the new shoots bright red while the older wood on "the trunk" is white.

Salix x 'Flame' was picked for a couple of twisted trees, and Salix koriyanagi 'Rubykins' - in this photo - and Salix 'Americana' were available for both the twisted tree and the harlequin tree.
Thank you all for participating, for the great feed-back, and for your enthusiasm for "Willows". Thank you Lorraine for allowing me to use some of your photos from the workshop.
Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Willow harvest and the beginning of a new season

I finished harvesting a couple of weeks ago and I sorted the willow for different purposes.

The rods for drying for future weaving projects are sorted and bundled to be placed in the barn for drying over the next few months.

The large rods to be used for living willow projects - as the woven fence in the picture here and my various trees - were wrapped in black plastic and stored in the shade on the North side of the barn to prevent them from drying out and make sure they stay dormant. More to come soon about my workshops and the woven fence (also called a fedge).
Then, as I prepared for my workshops , I placed the bundles in buckets with their feet in water - still in the shade - Here are some of the Salix koriyanagi 'Rubykins', the rods up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) long, no branching and perfect for making the Harlequin tree.
As the majority of my willows were planted last spring, and most willow varieties don't grow the long, unbranched rods the first year, I had a big pile of branches that were not good for my above uses. I will play with it a bit to find use for some of it and maybe part of it will end up on a bonfire.
Spring is here and I am so pleased to see that the willow in the field is starting to show new growth. In a few weeks I will be posting photos from the field with beautiful colours. Even the very new and small shoots look quite different on the different varieties.          
The potted trees that i have at the front door started to leaf out a couple of weeks ago and by now they look like this. The wine red stems of Salix x acutifolia get a greyish-white bloom during their second year and after that they turn almost black. Very interesting and beautiful variety. It is great for living willow projects, but not very good for weaving as it is not very flexible.
Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Living Willow Workshop, additional date available

My April 10 workshop is now full. I still have spots available for the April 17 and we have added another date, Thursday April 15 for those who prefer to attend on a week-day.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pussy Willows?

At the end of winter/start of spring some willows are among the earliest bloomers, providing nectar for the "early bird" - or should I say the early bee and other insects hunting for food seemingly long before any flowers are around.
For many people "Pussy Willows" are a sure sign of spring and a few branches with the fuzzy little catkins are picked for a vase.
What is a "Pussy Willow"? Some sources name the North American native willow Salix discolor and Salix caprea (Goat Willow, native to Europe and parts of Asia) as being pussy willows while other sources ad other Salix species under the title. In your mind, do you think "Salix discolor" when you hear pussy willow? or just any willow, blooming with catkins?
When you grow willows for basketry and/or cuttings, you most often harvest the rods before any catkins are visible, but this winter we had lots of snow in the field, so when spring "suddenly" came a few of my willows started to show their beautiful catkins.

These are from some "wild" willows that I have, maybe one of them is Salix discolor.

Salix dasyclados

Salix 'Americana'

Salix koriyanagi 'Rubykins'

Salix sachaliensis 'Sekka'
Salix viminalis
My Salix acutifolia doesn't show any catkins, but take a look at the blogpost about them at my blogger friend Vivian (Piletossen) - they almost look unreal.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.