Willows in the winter

One of my better ideas in the garden are my willows which provide a welcome touch of orange and red at this time of year (November 2017).

We planted 5 Salix alba “Chermesina) in January of 2014 to encircle a favourite sitting spot.  A large fir tree had been taken down just behind them and the area felt rather naked.  We also planted a little Mahonia and quite a few spring bulbs.

Despite their stick-like beginning the willows had already taken on form by July of 2015


By July of 2016 they had made a very respectable screen but the bulbs had lost the battle along the way.  2017 tested their drought tolerance and it is important for us that they can survive dry summers.

The Mahonia that I had chosen is Mahonia eurybracteata “Soft Caress”.  It was “Plant of the Year” at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2013.  I’m afraid that I was not very kind to it, planting it at the foot of such vigorous willows.  The idea was that the willows would shelter it from the strong sunshine but I think I misjudged the space it would need.  I find space very difficult to judge when you are planting small plants and not too sure of their growth patterns.  As the photo shows the flowers are not too impressive so I have decided to move it this year once we get some rain.

We will be cutting the willows back severely at the end of winter, as we have done each year, so that they produce the fine branches from the base.  They shoot up four metres high branches over the year.

It is good when at least some things go the way you intend them in the garden.

34 thoughts on “Willows in the winter

  1. The main problem with these and other willows with colored bark is that they do not get cut back at the end of winter. I prefer to pollard them a few feet above the ground (on a single straight trunk) instead of coppicing them to the ground, just because they are easier to prune that way. However, such a bare knob might be unsightly in such a nice garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do love to see the branches in a suitable container. It does take some imagination to get them just right and artistic arrangement is not a strong point with me. I might have a go this year as I have a tall copper vase that they might look good in. Amelia


    1. I don’t know this Winter Walk but it does look stunning and shows just what you can do to have colour in the winter. I am more familiar with the Saville Gardens in winter and their display of Dogwoods is superb. Unfortunately, I am not as successful with the Dogwoods, perhaps the ground is too dry. Amelia


    1. I have seen lovely garden buildings made out of willow and I think they are beautiful. It would be lovely to be able to make one for one’s own garden. It is a bit beyond my capabilities although I have always fancied learning how to make willow baskets. Amelia


  2. I have been checking them out but they are not great for the bees. Our best willows are our goat willows. Last year Kourosh took quite a few cuttings. We will replant a couple to make sure of continuity in the garden and give the rest to bee-keeping friends. Amelia


  3. I love willows but don’t think our garden is big enough for them. You’re so right that gardening is a matter of trial and error. In October after we finished weeding I moved many of the plants to that I planted in our first year to different locations. It is so much fun planning every year and watching the garden grow. Emma


    1. I am not a real gardener but the garden gives me a lot of pleasure. I think you will be like me when you choose plants, first you will think, “Will this be good for the bees and other pollinators and the birds?” It is surprising that given a little consideration a more suitable plant can be obtained without any sacrifice to care, perfume or utility. Amelia


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