Thursday, April 04, 2013

Just Willows

 Thursday, April 4, 2013

A bright, sunny day here on the mountain with a  temperature that is slow to rise. Heading for 11 o'clock and still only 43.9° and that's "in" the sun. The wind has finally slowed and 3 mph seems quite acceptable after two full days of 7-14 mph.

As we get the impression that spring is really coming, it's fun to prune various shrubs and bring them inside to force. I usually begin with forsythia which is ready to force any time after the end of February. The bright yellow flowers take a week to come around but when they do there is a brightness that brings on smiles. Forsythia is easy to root in straight water although I usually take a two foot piece of willow and cut it in 3" pieces to add to the water. Willow contains a natural rooting hormone and was used back in colonial times when propagating many shrubs and trees. You cannot see what it does but do trust me, it works!

Willows of all types have caught on again in America and the choices exceed 125 varieties even here in New England. Up top is a row I have been propagating of Japanese or Dragon Fantail Willows mixed with Twisted or Curly Willow. I am growing these because the floral industry loves them and Gail, an experienced designer with skill on oversize arrangements knows the mechanics of using large stems to make for dramatic show pieces. This row is in its third year now. The following two pictures are of Fantail and then Twisted or Curly. The fantail is not on every branch and is actually fasciation which is common to that willow.

In 2-3 weeks, Alex and I will spend a day cutting all the pictured willows to about 8" from the ground. Then we will roll out a 4' wide piece of landscape fabric into rows for weed control and we will push freshly cut willows through the fabric and into the ground so they will remain as weed free as possible at their bases.They will root in a couple weeks and by the end of May we'll go back and lop off the top of each piece so that it will branch out over time. To get to where each willow is marketable, we'll wait for three years. By then the willows will be in the 12 foot range so not that handy to cut for sale but always plentiful.

Guess that's enough willow talk for this morning. I better get outside and getting going before the morning leaves me. The birds are mad at me for pulling back on the bird seed but spring warmth translates to bears out of hibernation..... and .....well.....I can't keep everyone in the animal world happy. If you drive by the flower farm and see me out there in the snow working, stop by and I'll cut a couple willows for you to root. A couple.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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And always here to help you grow your green thumb!

1 comment:

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