Willow Planting

Without photos this is rather dull. Apologies as well as accolades to those who read on. Today we planted the willows.; 56 of them. These are dual purpose; for cropping and summer privacy, not aesthetics.  As crops we hope to cultivate a sufficient quantity of, what are referred to as ‘ rods’,  to build some living fences or experimental structures to create garden architecture and then,  some willow border edging to deter our feathered charges from invading our gardens. As privacy, we hope that the willows’  rapid spring and summer growth will provide an adequate, albeit light and seasonal,  screen from the heavy traffic to and from our neighbors places’ to provide some relief from our ( I mean ‘MY’) sense of exposure.

No offense. I’m very fond of our neighbors and their lodgers and employees and subcontractors, but when I moved here from NYC , and gave up the stimulation that ‘the city-that-never-sleeps’ provides, I’d expected that, at least,  I’d be able to sit outside at 7:00 am with a cup of tea, (and, yes, a cigarette) in my pajamas, and write my To-Do list without having to wave friendly acknowledgement and greeting to every passing vehicle. Not so. I feel obligated to disrupt my focus and wave and smile; and so may they! They may very well be thinking ” Oh, god, her again….jeez, what a pain in the ….oh, wave, wave, Hi, How-ya-doin?”

Yes. Let’s have a screen, shall we.

The willow planting will not make a beautiful hedge or a year-round screen and we know that. They’re deciduous, for one thing. They won’t flower, in the ‘specimen’ sense (maybe a few catkins in Spring). They won’t present beautiful, shapely forms or even interesting hues and shades and foliage.  We’re trialing these plants for the USDA. We are looking at soil erosion issues as well as their ability to ‘break-up’ compacted and hard pan soil.

We have planted them in a row that borders the driveway. They have been mulched, for weed control,  and the mulch has been covered with black, plastic netting , secured and anchored with wire ‘staples’, to deter the chickens, ducks and turkeys from scratching in the mulch. (This was even happening while we were installing the netting, of course with the cutest, most innocent and most grateful looking faces imaginable, peering up at us with expectant hope, as if to ask “When are you going to get rid of this impenetrable webbed stuff?” ! The feathered ones believe that any earth disturbance around the place is done for the express purpose of making their lives more pleasurable.)! Think again, o feathered ones.

The trial is on. I’ll report back in the Spring/Summer of 2012 to see what happens.

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3 thoughts on “Willow Planting

  1. Hi Kathy,
    The willows are started from cuttings, which root readily (willows do that). In spring, we will ‘coppice’ them, that is, cut them back to within 12″ of the ground, from which will arise numerous shoots. In time, a year or two, we will be able to harvest these shoots, or ‘rods’ in abundance (we hope), using them to either start more plants, such as building a living structure, or to weave garden edging, as if one were weaving a basket. You know, Kathy, while researching this project, I came across an extraordinarily beautiful example of long, curved willow fence that someone had created in France. I wish I could find that image and link again as it was really quite spectacular. Comment est-ce qu’on dit ‘willow’ en francais? (oh the rust of my french). Thanks for reading. Bises to you too.

  2. That sounds like an interesting project. How do you actually ‘harvest’ the rods? Do you root branches or graft something? Enjoy reading you! Bises, Kathy

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