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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Autumn 2007
John Cushnie On...

16th August 2004

s. kilmarnockSalix covers an enormous number of species and varieties of trees better known as willows, pussy willows or sallies. They are to be found in hedgerows, along the banks of rivers, in marshy areas and planted in front and back gardens the length and breadth of the country.

Regarding site and soil they have one thing in common. Willows prefer a deep, heavy, permanently moist soil.

There are species including the common white willow, Salix alba, that will grow to 80 ft with a 30ft spread. Others such as Salix caprea 'Kilmarnock', the weeping willow, is pendulous growing down from the grafting height (usually 6 ft above ground level).

s. retusaMy favourite willows are those with coloured bark. Their young growths colour brillantly holding their own after leaf fall and throughout the winter. Yellow, orange and scarlet are available. Pruning back the growths every second year to within a few inches of the main trunk insures a constant supply of cloured bark.

To encourage new shoots feed the trees with a balanced granular fertilizer in late spring.

s. tortuosaThe golden weeping willow S.x sepulcralis 'Chryoscoma' is like its name - large. It looks wonderful overhanging a river but will eventually become too large for the average sized garden.
S. babylonica var. pekinensis 'Tortuosa' is another large tree with curiously twisted branches which are sought by flower arrangers.

S. fargesii is a tree or shrub that is ideal for the smaller garden. The stems turn red-brown with bright red winter buds. In spring it produces 6 inch long, green catkins making a contrast to the glossy, dark green foliage. It will grow to 8 -10 ft high with similar spread of 18 inches.

s. sekkaDon't plant S. sachalinensis 'Sekka' unless you have an enormous area to cover. It has bright green leaves and grey catkins with bright golden anthers. It quickly forms a thicket with branches rooting where they touch the ground. Despite regular use with the chanin saw mine is still covering an area at least 35 ft across with a height of 10 ft.

s. lantanaI will finish with small, well behaved shrub. S. lantana (woolly willow) has softly hairy, filvery-grey leaves and golden-yellow male catkins in late spring. It will grow to 3-4 ft high with a 5 ft spread.

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