Willow talk

Last week I went to a talk about willow and it’s usefulness. The talk was meant to be a tour around The Willow Bank but because of the bad weather it was held indoors with a slide show. These are some of the things I learned:

Willow catkins - 18th April 2010

  • Willow will hybrid itself very easily and if you have a few different willows in your garden they will often cross themselves resulting in a hybrid that could well be unique to your garden, this is how some of the most popular varieties of have been breed
  • Willow travels mainly by seed, similarly to dandelions, but also travels by cuttings which is why willow is so often seen along river banks and around water as if anything as big as a small twig up to half a tree falls into the water is it very likely to root and plant itself wherever it alights upon earth
  • In spite of the fact willow travels the countryside by seed the seed does not store well which is why most cultivated willow is grown from cuttings. This is essentially cloning and so probably means that popular cultivated willows could be traced back to a small number of ordinal ‘hybrids’
  • The planting season for willow is December – March, with the growing season being March – November. Cuttings are normally between 90% – 100% successful.
  • Another reason willow is often found growing along river banks or in fields that flood is the they have cells in the roots that hold oxygen which is why they can stand being water-logged for longer than most other plants.
  • There are thousands of willow verities but one of the easiest to grow is Viminalis as it will do well in most soils and withstand water-logging.
  • Plantations of willow can have up to 50 years worth of productivity, but 30 years is recommended.
  • Willow is traditionally planted around orchards and market gardens as a shelter and also because of the early flowers attracting benifital insects

The willow that I was kindly sent by Gwen at World of Willow is doing well, and I now have lots of plans for growing lots more.

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