Monday, 2 September 2013

A Salix from the dark side

Yesterday we had a productive afternoon in the garden, mainly blitzing the back of the workshop area, burning rubbish and listing things to sell on Gumtree and Ebay to make some money to spend on Easter Mosshat Projects. I always find clearouts really carthartic, especially if it involves bonfires! We also recycled broken slabs from outside the workshop to make a path in the chicken and duck enclosure which gets really muddy and wet in the winter. It's one of the things we are really keen on, recycling and re using as much material as we can in the gardens.

Rooted cuttings

One of the great things about gardening is a lot of the time it is so easy to produce plants for nothing. At Easter Mosshat where we have so much ground to fill that is even more appealing. In between moving slabs I managed to plant the beginnings of a new hedge along the south side of the
chicken enclosure which looks over the neighbouring field using some Willow I had rooted in the water barrel. In many places Salix can be cut as long whips and planted in narrow slits in the ground and will root very easily this way, giving quick and relatively cheap hedging and windbreaks, or free
if you already have some plants to cut material from.

 I have never had success with willows this way at Easter Mosshat, it's either too windy, too wet, too cold or too something, so I always root them to give them a fighting chance. The easiest way is to sit them in a barrel of water
for a month or so until they have fantastic long pinky white roots, then they can be planted in the normal way. Because
I had put them quite deep in the barrel they had rooted right up the 3ft stems so I was able to cut off some of the side
branches, resulting in 10 plants from the original 3 branches!
Not bad at all, especially as I got the cuttings for nothing to
start with.

Chicken inspection of new willow hedge

The Salix I planted on Sunday was Salix gracilistyla Melanostachys, which has the most amazing black catkins
in spring. As they mature they have red anthers which makes the whole effect even more striking. This willow will grow
to 10 ft but is best cut back to keep it small and the catkins more visible.

Salix gracilistyla Melanostachys

Salix catkins

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