Looking after your living willow tree
Tutorial: https://vimeo.com/679534129 Password: willowandyoga
CUT THE STRING OFF THE BOTTOM AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME or have made it.
1. Water. Water. Water!
Place the tree pot in a bucket or a trough of water.
Keep it totally and continually in water from March until the leaves drop.
Our weather is so unpredictable we never know when it will be dry and hot and willow loves water.
Check water levels daily when it is hot and dry. Always top up!
If it doesn’t have enough water some of the rods will die and go black.
If this happens, remove by cutting them out carefully, so as not to damage the others.
2. Side shoots.
Pinch off all the shoots/buds that grow on the rods below the ties at the top.
This concentrates all of the growth to the top of the tree above the ties.
There are quite a few in the first year, it’s very therapeutic. They become less in subsequent years.
Feed your tree sporadically with any all purpose plant/tree supplement. Follow the label instructions.
If the leaves look a little yellow then a supplementary feed is usually required.
$. You can shape the crown until the month of August. Just trim of the rods that have grown too long.
Second year and on wards. February/March.
Retie the flexi ties if you think they are too tight and restricting the growth of the plant.
Cutting options - Cut all the ‘one year old’ growth back to the top of the rods with sharp secateurs, this will multiply the new growth, creating a bushy top and then continue on a 1 year cutting rotation.
Or Leave the first year growth to grow on, this creates a taller tree, then cut them back after 2 years and continue on a 2 year cutting rotation.
Repotting - you can transfer your tree to a bigger/favourite pot, but still keep your roots totally and continually in water. Ideally do this in the second year but if you do pot it up this year, tie the bottoms together so it doesn’t unweave. If you plant it in the garden please do not place it anywhere near the house and drains. Willow always finds water!!
Beware the wind; it can blow them over, depending on the weight of the pot.
Hedgerow and Garden Materials
for willow weaving and basket making
Bushes, hedges and trees are an excellent source of material to work with but it is important to ask for permission before you cut.
You can generally cut between the months of October and March. The rule is if you can wrap it around your wrist you can use it. With our climate being very eratic this can vary from year to year.
The material is usually too dry to use after May but if soaked like willow it might be possible to use it. Some materials are too brittle and don't soak up the water well.
When you have cut the rods leave them to weather under a hedge for a couple of weeks. This allows them to dry a little so when used there won’t be as much shrinkage.
Many of the materials you collect will fade as they dry out so the brighter it is the better.
Sweet or Spanish chestnut, Beech, Fruit trees, Lilac, Poplar,
Climbers and trailers
Ivy, Holly (does not need much weathering as it will dry out too much), bramble with the thorns stripped off with a glove, Periwinkle, Clematis, Dog rose, Honeysuckle, Hop, Ivy, Passion flower, Winter flowering jasmine.
Coppiced or pollarded trees.
Willow, Lime, Eucalyptus, Hazel
Bay laurel, Dogwood, Laburnum, Butchers broom, Forsythia, Privet, Peach, Vine, Snowberry
Ash, Elm, Blackthorn, Yew, Spindle, Hazel, Field Maple
Alder, Birch, Contorted Hazel, Larch with cones on, Magnolia, Mistletoe, Oak, Pussy Willow, Blueberry,
A great book for hedgerow materials and how to make a basket is Susie Vaughn's Handmade Basket Making book, I made my first basket using this book.
I use Musgroves as my main supplier.
Their customer service is excellent.
Musgrove Willow Growers Ltd
Willow Fields, Lakewall, Weston Zoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset TA7 0LP
01278 691105 https://www.musgrovewillows.co.uk/
English Willow Baskets.
Telephone: 01823 490249 (Mon-Fri 9-5).
P H Coate & Son
Meare Green Court, Stoke St Gregory, Taunton,
Somerset, TA3 6HY
Star Tutorial Link
To keep the willow flexible until you can weave it place it in a damp cloth. Keep it out of the sun and wind. If it dries out pop it on the lawn overnight to soak up the dew. This can be done for up to a week.