Hi, I'm Theresa Storey and I run The Green Apron Artisan Preserve and Tea Company and write and blog and garden and teach and.....

In Praise of Willow

Dragon neck willow

Dragon neck willow

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. bees harvesting nectar

I was just out in the sunshine watching my willow flowers being swarmed by bees and hoverflies.

Hoverflies sunning themselves

Hoverflies sunning themselves

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.

Peking Willow-the one on willow pattern delph.

Peking Willow-the one on willow pattern delph.

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.

Contorted willow

Contorted willow

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.Basket that our February wwoofer Majka made.

Wiilow can be woven to make all sorts of  living garden structures , fences and sculptures.

willow arch

Living Willow Fence

Often the willow branches will then graft together .Grafted willow

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.two years growth of willow

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.


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