I must say I absolutely love my willow trees. When their pussy willow buds are out its the promise of spring to come and the end of winter. Its also an extremely valuable plant for wildlife as its one of the first sources of nectar in the spring for insects and it supports almost three hundred species of insects through the year.
I was just out in the sunshine watching my willow flowers being swarmed by bees and hoverflies.
The bark of the willow contains salicylic acid which is the main component of asprin and the bark has been used medicinally for thousands of years.
Willow also has more than its fair share of plant hormones -especially rooting hormones.Stick a bit of willow in the ground and it will root like you wouldnt believe . You can also use willow tea made from willow twigs as a rooting solution . Soak cuttings of other species of plants in the tea for a few hours and voila.
Willow cames in all sorts of colours ( from black through purple to beige) and forms (weeping tostandard to contorted). We have about a dozen varieties here. Some are large varieties for Biomass(grows 18ft perannum) and for building garden structures and others are more light and are used for wildcrafting and basketmaking.
Wiilow can be woven to make all sorts of living garden structures , fences and sculptures.
Often the willow branches will then graft together .
Young willow shoots have the best colour and should be cut in th elate autumn to early spring .wait until there has been a hard frost-it helps make the color more vibrant.
Willow is so useful as a biomass crop because it grows extremely fast so do think of that if you decide to use it in your garden.In the picture below you can see the willow fence whick was woven and cut this year.I didnt cut the branch thats sticking up at the end of the fence last year or this year so thats two seasons growth. Ginormous.
Willow thrives in damp and wet areas of the garden and dries those areas up a treat . If its not in a wet area it will send roots out searching for a wter supply thus the problems with willows damaging drains. So be careful where you plant.