A time of willows

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Instagram will know I have been a bit willow-obsessed recently.  There is something about a willow tree that I find magical.  My maternal grandparents used to have one in their garden, not a huge one, but big enough that I could stand within it and think I was invisible.  If you can't see them then they can't see you, right?  My main memory of this is that it was generally full of ants so I would run out of there quite quickly.  My grandparents' willow is no more, the space where it was is now car-parking space, you can imagine how I feel about this.

These memories of childhood have meant that I have always wanted a weeping willow in my garden.  I have neither the right conditions or the space for one, so it remains on the list called 'maybe the next garden....'.  I do however grow some willows in my garden that are better suited to where I am.  There is a contorted willow, Salix x scarcuzam, by the pond, bought on a trip to Devon around ten years ago and there is the grey willow, Salix cinerea that is close by in the Exotic Border.  You can see why it is called the grey willow.  The flowers on this shrub are outstanding in every phase they go through, starting with the fluffy grey.....

then moving on from grey to red.
From the red they start to ripple out with yellow.
The mid-stage is quite spectacular.
They then, shamelessly, shimmer in the light.
They positively glow.
and then as the moment is over, they return, they fade to grey (earworm intended, you're welcome.)

I also have a Salix Mount Aso, I love her but: she glowed pink for a couple of years and then is now teetering on the edge of life.  You know that 'not quite dead but really not looking happy' stage?  I shall have to keep an eye on her this year.  

and then there is the Salix Kilmarnock.  We all know this little grafted tree that appears in so many garden centres.  Dear reader I have a confession: despite dearly wanting a weeping willow and this tree providing a garden friendly version, I have been a bit snobby about this tree.  I don't even know why, but I was not a fan.

Remember last year when I went to RHS Bridgewater on the last day out?  Where I hoped that the gardens would be able to open in July?  How foolish was that hope!  For some reason I did not mention that one the way home my daughter and I stopped off at a garden centre for lunch.  I have no idea where we were at the time (somewhere between the gardens and Leicester, closer to the gardens than home).  We had a nice lunch and wandered around the plant section.  My daughter saw a Salix Kilmarnock and decided she wanted one.  I looked at the price and thought it a little pricey so said I would do some hunting to find her a cheaper one.  This meant I bought two of course and I kept it in a pot by the back door.  (I also bought a couple of Magnolias, more of them another day....)

Why have I been so snobby about this plant?  It is lovely, you do need to choose one with a nice healthy graft but it is a good solution for a willow-wanting person without the space for a proper one.

I try not to snobby about plants, I think we all have something we are snobby about plant-wise don't we?  I remember once someone 'peeing on my chips' when I bought a sedum by declaring I had bought an 'ordinary' one and they only bought the specials ones.  For a moment I looked again at the sedum and decided it was special enough in my eyes.    

I walked past a Kilmarnock the other day planted into a front garden.  I looked at it and smiled.  Us Kilmarnock owners need to stick together.
I also decided that mine should be planted out into the garden as it will probably be happier than staying in a pot for much longer.  She might not look much at the moment, but I will keep her watered through the year as trees planted now do need keeping an eye on.  I have great hope that she will become something wonderful.

I also considered carefully where she would go.  I planted her in the Wild Garden near the Contorted Hazel and the Iford Cherry.  I think the shapes should work well together.  Well, that's the hope anyway... if you never hear of it again you know it didn't work out.

Stay safe and be kind.

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