We grow about 40 varieties of willows & adding
Some willows have been developed specifically for basketry, suitable for fine to heavier work; other varieties grow very tall and fast and are good for living willow structures, and other large types of structures
Some willows have such stunning winter color that they are also grown for their colored rods and are visually beautiful in the the garden or in a bouquet.
Other willows are planted around hives and orchards, to produce early flowers, ( catkins) " the bee willows" to provide pollen/nectar for bees, or are grown as cut flowers or pussy willows.
Natural materials that could be twined, coiled, plaited or woven have been used for thousands of years to make products of essential utility by people world wide, with oftentimes extraordinary skill and artistry.
Basket willow specifically was cultivated for its strength and flexibility, sustainable growth and ease of production as farming culture and population increased.
All manner and form of baskets have been used for storage and transport throughout history and up to the not so distant past, with an enormous increase of production during the industrial revolution, as goods, means of distribution, and populations increased.
Willow work reached its peak in the Victorian era and waned dramatically as alternate materials have been developed for storage and transport.
Varieties suited to fine through to coarse basketmaking include;
all the purpureas, triandras, daphnoides,
S. americana, S. koriyanagi 'Rubikins' S. viminalis and more.
Living & Structural
Willow is renowned for its brilliant determination to grow.
A twig scattered by the wind about the field will grow.
A 12 inch cutting or 15 ft. rod pushed into the soil will grow.
100 Rods arranged as a tunnel will grow
A circle of rods in the ground twined at the top will grow
& leaves and more branches will grow
& within a year ...
a living willow structure of your design and vision, becomes a growing living thing that can provide shelter or privacy or pure whimsy for years to come
Just how much fun can you have with living willow ?
Research "living willow structures"
Dried willows for fences, arches or obelisks, can be constructed quickly from rods from you garden.
Varieties that will produce very tall strong rods quickly and are best suited for living willow work include;
S daphnoides, S. dasyclados, S. purpurea X Americana,
S. miyabeana, SX64, Salix koriyanagi 'Rubikins'
Some willow varieties produce catkins, the willow's flower, that is displayed in clusters, very early, on bare stems before the leaves appear. These flower clusters can either be male or female depending on the variety of willow. It is the male flower that we typically recognize as the furry silver pussy willow in its early stage of presentation.
Willow flowers provide protein from pollen and nectar for the bees when there may be little else available.
Pussy willows from different varieties will come out at various times and it is possible to have a array & sequence of blooming flowers throughout the early spring months.
The "bee willows" that have precocious flowers are identified on the list of varieties
Some of those " bee willows" also have uniquely colored catkins which in addition to providing food for the bees are beautiful in the garden and a pleasure as cut flowers.
Landscape & Floral Willows
Willow varieties produce plants that range in size, shape , color, leaf, flower and form, from a 1" alpine to trees well over 60 ft. There are willows for small & large gardens, for parks & estates, for waterside & highway. There are willows that are columnar, shrubby, creeping, & weeping
Creative landscapers can use willows in exciting ways
a stand of red 'britzensis' in the winter;
a coppiced row of 'Blackskin' oily black stems
an egg yolk yellow grouping of ' Hutchinson's Yellow'
a snake barked purple stemmed daphnoides 'Continental Purple' tree, with its gleaming teardrop catkins.
or a stand of the chalky white bloomed stalks of Acutifolia 'blue streak'
a linear stand of irrorata with is lavender hued stem winter show
a speciman tree of Salix magnifica with magnolia like leaves, & 4"catkins
tongue-twister sepulcralis erythroflexuosa with its red curly contorted branches as a fence
the dragon willow 'Sekka's arching palm like leaves, & fasciated coiled stems around a pond
the edgy character of the surprising black pussy willow
the fresh painted pink, white and green leaves of 'Hakuri Nishiki'
& introduce into the garden the spring herald of
Silver white pussy willows & astounding pink pussy willows, black drifting to red pussy willows, silver stubbed 'rabbits foot' pussy willows, the generous gracious grey softness of 'Winter Glory', and stunning green pussy willows