Over the past few days I have been sorting through old notebooks; revisiting past to do lists, notes from different gardens, bits and pieces from work and other random things I have started writing.
In amongst it all I found some notes from a talk about willow I went to some years ago, since then I have learnt how informative it is to put dates on things, whatever they might be. If I remember correctly the talk was by The Willow Bank and has been one that I still remember and often use what information I’d remembered from it.
- Willow mainly travels by seed, similar to dandelion but also by cuttings which travel down streams and water sources and take root, hence why willow is so common on river banks.
- Willow hybridises itself and so most areas have their own unique variety
- Willow seeds do not store well which is why cuttings are used, this creates ‘clones’ of the mother plant
- Cuttings have a success rate of approx ninety percent but can be as high as hundred percent
- Planting season is December to March
- Growing session is March to November
- Plantations will last for fifty years however thirty years is recommended for commercial sites. By the third year a plantation will be almost up to it’s optimum harvest
- Rabbits are its main ‘pest’
- Willow has cells in it’s roots that hold oxygen which is why it will stand in water for periods of time
- Traditionally willow was planted around orchards and market gardens as shelter and because of it’s early flowering attracting beneficial insects
Willow catkins - 18th April 2010
For a while now I have been looking at getting some willow, the more I have looked into it the more I have liked the idea. After going on the basket making course last year it seemed time to get some. But what? There are some many different types out there, all are good for different uses and different conditions.
I wanted something that would help with drainage in the goat pen, grow reasonably quickly and be useful for making baskets and possibly using as a feed for the goats. After spending much time on the internet, looking at all the pretty colours and all the different uses I came across a listing for a collection of willow on ebay.
From there I found the World of Willow website and emailed Gwen, asking if she might offer me a special offer or collection. After letting her know what I wanted, she went one better and GAVE ME a lovely willow collection!
It arrived at the start of this month and is doing well; there are seven different verities in a range of colours from yellow through to black. Ideal for making lots of nice coloured baskets with. As well as the basketry collection there are also hedging and windbreaks, fuel and short rotation coppice andwildlife and bees collections. With a few more collections for livestock, small animals and bees.
It is now a bit late in the year for buying willow cuttings but World of Willow also run courses, at one of the best prices I have found. When I was emailing Gwen she mentioned that she had just collected a yurt to run them in so it sounds like they will be in a lovely setting as well.
We now have some willow cuttings, courtesy of a local freecycler. They have been in the kitchen rooting for a while now but I’ve finally planted most of them out on the far site of the goat pen to hopefully make that area drier in the long run.