Brief thoughts on the Willow Tree

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In my work as a digital artist I have little formal training, likewise in my hobbies of guitar playing, wood working and gardening I’m also blissfuly ignorant of the ‘right’ way to do things. It’s important to me that you understand I do no consider myself an authority on anything. I’m not here to lecture only relay to you how I see the world from my own perspective. For me life is about the joy of learning from personal experience not teachers or books.

So to the Willow
I don’t like plants or trees that can’t stand up for themselves, If something needs special treatment and tender care i’m really not the man for the job. I love trees over flowers and shrubs for this very reason, for me the willow is the Ultimate user-friendly, don’t worry about me tree. A Willow be it twisted or weeping has two traits I love, they are survivors and boy do they grow fast.

I believe anyone with water can grow a willow.
About 20 years ago, I picked up a small willow branch by a riverbank in Colchester, I took it home and left it in a bottle of water for a few weeks. To my delight it grew lots of thin white roots and small leaf buds, with little technique I transferred it to a pot filled with wet compost and just kept watering him. Caesar as i called him, is still with me, despite his age he is stunted in size. This is due no doubt to the fact he’s spent much of his life in large pots,  he has been planted in the ground a number of times, but always ends up being moved. As of typing he is back in a pot awaiting his trip to our next home.

All my weeping willows are offsprings of Caesar he now even has great grandchildren lol. I can say that few trees could survive as eventful lives as my willows are given. They are moved, cut back, bent  and seem to be reborn over and  over again. It seems to me me the more brutal you are with them the more they prosper. I also have number of twisted willows in my collection these all came from another small cutting I ‘acquired’. From my observations these grow quicker than the weeping variety and generally seem to be healthier in appearance, my wife definitely prefers them.

I currently have about six twisted willows and 4 weeping varieties which are between 4 & 10 foot high and over 20 which are 7 to 15 inch branch cuttings that are doing well. When I move I hope to grow many more mainly in large pots until I find a place to plant them all once and for all. Sadly I will have to leave many of my trees when I move, given the fact that non of them are that big they will probably all be cut down by the next owner. I’m not to sad as they live on through all my cuttings. I guess my aim would be to grow enough trees to supply me with lots of branches for sculptures or willow biofuel.

For me there are few sights and sounds as beautiful as an adult willow swaying in the summer breeze by a river bank. The Joy of being able to sit in the shade of a tree you have grown from a cutting in just a few years is one of life’s most inexpensive pleasures. While their life spans are insignificant when compared to Oaks, willows are the perfect companion to the human who wants a tree to enjoy in a sensible time frame. Willows will happily live in large pots, just keep them watered, trimmed and have a chat with them once in a while they seem to like that :)

Many people simply don’t have time for trees in their garden anymore. In my street alone I have see most of the trees removed by those who can’t be bothered to prune them or simply want more light. I say light is all well and good, but in our suburbs and cities we need as many trees as possible to help with air quality and support our declining bird populations. Beyond the Scientific analysis we really can not know what a tree is,they have however proved very useful to man through history, without them the world we know wouldn’t even exist. So plant a tree today and if you can’t plant on give one a hug just to say thanks.

I will post more details on my willows soon.