Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Willow – Salix Contorta.
There are many varieties of Willows from large growing specimens that
can reach 25m and more to Dwarf specimens that only grow a few feet and
weeping varieties that may be grafted to again restrict their height.
Some are more suited to back gardens than others, but even larger
growing specimens can be Coppiced to keep their height under control.
This is where the main Trunk is cut down to just above ground level
thereby encouraging the tree to throw out lots of straight, but thin and
quick growing stems that are ideal for weaving. They may be used to make
the traditional baskets, trays and animals, or the thicker ones can be
used to make old fashioned fencing Hurdles. The bare “Twisted,” or
“Contorted,” Willow stems are also much favoured by Flower arrangers.
In recent years, forever on the look out for new ways to sell plants,
commercial Growers have taken the idea of Weaving Willow Stems to a new
level and now produce miniature, woven and living architectural
sculptures as seen in the picture. Larger, living Stems, are also often
used to make garden sized pieces of decoration.
Willows originate from China. But can now be found growing everywhere
because of their usefulness and versatility. They do have a problem and
that is their roots are particularly invasive seeking out water and
running up to 100 feet or so.
Being one of the few trees that copes
quite happily with water logged ground though, they can be grown for
harvesting where other trees cannot. The wood of Willows is a
lightweight, Hardwood that is not the strongest of timber, but very
useful in making small pieces of furniture and has traditionally been
used to make Cricket Bats. However, Willows are also relatively short
lived trees generally surviving for only 50 years or so. Their narrow
and deciduous leaves, along with their attractive Catkins, that are
again often cut for Flower arrangements and ever popular with Children,
add to the popularity of the Willow. Traditionally, Willows were also
used as a natural source of Salicin which is natures very own Aspirin.
Willows may not produce Fruit for Wildlife to eat, but the Leaves are a
firm favourite with Rabbits and Deer.