Basket willow for sale

Contents

Selecting and Preparing Willow to Begin Basket Weaving

Basket Weaving

Basket-making really is a cradle-to-grave skill. Baskets are used from birth as moses baskets to carry newborns and then throughout life to collect wild food, cook in, eat from, shop with, sit on, right up until our death, where we can even be buried in a woven casket!

In the UK our ancestors would have woven baskets from native plant materials such as: dried grass, bramble, willow and straw. The rule of thumb is that any long thin plant material you can wrap around your wrist once fully without snapping can be woven as a basket. Today we can also buy imported basket weaving materials such as cane (from a tropical palm) or raffia.

above: straw, cane, raffia.

At Wild Harvest School we teach willow basket weaving due to the easy availability and quick growing nature of willow in the wet UK. It is a plant you can readily find in the wild or that you can plant in your garden to raise a few willow whips yourself. We don’t believe in importing tropical plants when nature provides us with native materials right here!

above: black maul willow, brown willow, buff willow (bark stripped)
The willow used mostly in commercial basket weaving in the UK is Black Maul a cultivar of Salix Triandra but most willow is ‘weavable’. The thin shoots of the willow tree are known as whips but once cut and dried we call them rods.

Choosing Willow for Basket Weaving

You can buy rods already cut and dried, either with the bark stripped off (buff) or with the bark left on (brown). The difference here is in both aesthetics and toughness to weave. If you are new to weaving and/or don’t have much hand strength then its best to start with buff willow as its much easier to work. Green willow refers to undried willow that in theory could sprout life again if stuck in the ground. If you weave a basket from willow straight off the tree (green) it will shrink as it dries so distorting your baskets shape, this is why we usually work with willow that has been dried and then re-soaked. It has then pre-shrunk.

Size – For basket weaving purposes rods can be bought in bundles known as ‘bolts’ sized from 3 feet long up to nine feet long and sold in Kg. A 5kg bolt of 3ft willow is approximately £12 and contains 500 rods. You will need about 70 rods to make a simple round basket.

To determine how long the rods should be for a particular basket weaving project use Pie – The only adult use of ‘pie’ (that abstract mathematical concept we learn at school) I have ever had is in basket weaving. To work out how long the willow rods should be for a particular basket diameter use the Pie formula of “circumference equals 3.14 times the diameter”. So for a one foot diameter basket you will need rods of slightly longer than 3 feet in length, for a three feet diameter basket you will need the nine foot rods. This is a rough guide but its better to have slightly longer rods than your desired circumference.

Disease – Any black marks on your willow rods indicate a disease the plant was suffering from when it was growing and these spots will be weak and prone to snapping as you weave. Discard rods with this on until you are confident enough to work with it.

Timing – If you are cutting the willow yourself – there is a season for cutting to be aware of. Traditionally this was between Michaelmas and Candlemas, basically over the winter months. The reason for this is because the sap is down then; it rises in the tree in Spring and when the sap is down the whips are not so rigid .

Preparation of Willow ready to Weave into a Basket.

Soaking – Assuming you have some dried willow rods from a supplier or have cut your own and left them to dry indoors somewhere or wrapped under a hedge for three weeks you are now ready to re-soak the willow ready to weave. The re-soaking of the dried willow makes it pliable; bendy enough again for weaving, you will not be able to weave a basket with dried willow it will simply snap. To soak the willow I use either my bath at home or a garden pond, a river will also be fine. If you are using a pond or a river I recommend tying the bolt with string and the other end of the string to a tree so it doesn’t float away. I weight the bolt down under the water by covering it in wet towels. The amount of soaking time depends on both the type and length of the willow. Buff willow, because there is no bark for the water to penetrate is soaked for a much shorter time, the rule of thumb is based on the length of the rods because he length of the rods determines the thickness at the butt ends that the water must penetrated. Three foot buff rods can be soaked for as little as one hour but six foot buff rods can take about 3 hours.

With the brown willow (ie. bark on) the soaking time is much longer and the saying goes – one day per foot. So, a four foot bolt will take four days in the pond.

Mellowing – This isn’t the end of the process however because after it’s bath the willow likes to mellow for a while – after you remove it from the bath/pond the willow works best if its wrapped in wet towels for a further amount of time proportionate to the soaking time ie. soak for an hour then mellow for an hour.

I always think of this part like the willow is lounging around in a dressing gown for a bit until its ready to work.

Cut – dry – soak – mellow – weave.

Anatomy of a rod – You will see that the rod is thicker at the base end, the end that was closest to the ground when it was growing, this is known as the butt, the topmost end, the thin end is known as the tip. Rods will have a natural curve to them, the inside curve is known as the belly, the outer curve is the back. It is useful when weaving to work with the natural shape of the rod and not bend it at an un-natural angle to itself or it can snap. Wild Harvest are producing a series of videos teaching each stage of basket weaving. On the videos we will talk about butts and tips when teaching weaving. To express an interest in watching the videos email or to book on a course here at Wild Harvest School, York, visit our course calendar. The next course is Sunday 30th April 2017.

BASKETS ARE AMONG the most ancient and geographically pervasive objects humankind has ever fashioned from nature — and the only craft that has proved insusceptible to mechanization. (Every basket you see is the product of human handiwork.) Pottery often steals the ancient craft spotlight, in part because baskets are more perishable, but also because they have never been esteemed, even by their own makers. Baskets have carried our burdens, literally, for most of human history. Vessels woven from the plants around us were like appendages, allowing us to be bigger and more capacious, to carry things that we otherwise could not. The lowly basket could even be seen as a sine qua non of human history and progress, without which the world-altering development of agriculture might have withered on the vine: It allowed surplus food to be stored as well as transported for barter or sale.

The variety of baskets in the world — with their distinct shapes and materials and techniques and uses — is endless. In the way that history can be told in words, so too can it be read through craft — objects ingeniously fashioned out of necessity from whatever was on hand. Almost any plant whose parts are pliable, or can be made so by soaking in water — including roots, vines, pine needles, grasses, stems, even trees — can be turned into a basket. Broad materials, such as palms in the tropics, are plaited like braids; narrow materials, such as grasses on the Savannah, are coiled like ceramic pots; while stiffer materials, such as willow in the lowlands, are woven like tapestry. Trade, migration and war have meant that techniques and styles spread and have often mingled. There is a beautiful spiral weave done in Burkina Faso that somehow made its way to the Dordogne in Southern France, where it was used for garden baskets. In South Carolina, the Gullah, descendants of slaves, made sweetgrass baskets using a coiling technique brought from West Africa by their ancestors.

Image Two different baskets, as depicted by the Irish painter Sampson Towgood Roch, circa 1824.Credit…© National Museum Ni, Collection Ulster Museum

Few places in the world, however, have as enormous a variety of basketry as England. Most are made of willow, a wonder material that is at once flexible, lightweight, strong, endlessly renewable and easy to cultivate. (Cut the tree to the ground and it will resprout; push a branch into the earth and it will take root.) In the way that Eskimos have 50 or so words for “snow,” the British have nearly 200 for their baskets. There were seven different types for the herring trade alone: for trapping, for sorting, for holding ice, and one, the quarter cran, made to precise government specifications as a measure for pricing. Each particular need — whether agricultural, industrial or domestic — would be resolved by a basket uniquely configured for the task. Well into the first half of the 20th century in Britain, there were wicker prams and mail carts; butcher delivery baskets (distinct from bakery baskets); carriers for messenger pigeons and ammunition drops; and containers for broadcasting seed and hauling brick.

I like working with my hands. When doing so, my mind tends to slip into the present and errant thoughts subside. I view this as good and practicing this state helps me focus during daily routines. When I’m not using my hands to create something, I get tense and nervous. I’m not sure why this happens, but I suspect the need to use my hands runs in my blood — my father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all carpenters.

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Last year, we moved from a house with a big workshop to a small house with a shed that just fits the canoes and kayaks. I lost the place where I built boats, paddles and whatever else I needed to build. For this past year, I’ve struggled with finding satisfying projects and am attempting to keep my connection with boat building by doing my Winter Free Canoe and Kayak Plan Project. But, without a real project (even note the language I use when writing about my hands), my hands have suffered. While trying to find a reason why I need to use my hands and why if I don’t, I feel like something is missing from my life, I picked up The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture. Early in the book, Frank R. Wilson writes, “I would argue that any theory of human intelligence which ignores the interdependence of hand and brain function, the historic origins of that relationship, or the impact of that history on development dynamics in modern humans, is grossly misleading and sterile.” Does that answer my question? I don’t know, but I do know that when I make something I’m happier.

To help fulfill my hand’s needs, I built a willow basket. Somehow, I stumbled upon Jon’s Bushcraft’s Weaving a Wicker Basket tutorial. It looked like an easy enough craft to learn from the Internet, so I decided to try. I’ve always wanted to build a pack basket, but gathering and pounding black ask seemed a bit more than I wanted to commit to without a workshop. For the willow basket, I’d just need to gather some willow.

Finding willow ended up being harder than I thought. I found lots of thicker willow with lots of branches, but what I wanted was a thin willow shoot, preferably a year-old shoot from an old stump. I spent an entire day looking for the perfect sticks when it occurred to me to look under powerlines. In Cook County, power companies clear the lines every couple of years and they leave the stumps. My instinct proved right. I found a massive batch of perfect willow shoots.

I don’t want to rehash Jon’s Bushcraft’s tutorial, but I’ll make a few notes. First, making a willow basket is much harder than it sounds. In college, we used to make fun of the football players for majoring in basket weaving, but in retrospect, it probably challenged them more than we supposed. I ran into the first problems right at the start!

In order to link all the sticks together for the base of the basket, you’re suppose to twine the stakes together. I found that after I did as instructed, I had a hard time evenly spacing the twigs for weaving. For a second basket, I twined first around four spokes at a time for the first wrap and then two spokes at a time for the second wrap. This spread the spokes more evenly.

The second part that I struggled with was the French randing. I just couldn’t figure it out. I spent an hour one afternoon trying to figure out how to French rand. Eventually, I decided to skip it and just use a simple weave to build the basket’s sides.

In the end, I think my first basket turned out nice. It has enough gaps, that I’d lose a few berries if I went out gathering, but for bigger items, it’d work just fine. I think the weavers I used are just a little to thick. The next one will use thinner weavers. The process itself was satisfying enough to fulfill my hand’s needs. I love that I was able to turn something I gathered from the woods into a functional item using only a pocket knife and my hands.

Any of various willows having pliable twigs used in basketry and furniture

Usage examples of osier.

The futchels creaked and squealed as the vehicle swung round another corner, tipping on to two wheels and hurling gobbets of mud into the osiers blurring past on both sides.

On the sedgy brink where the osiers cling Lay a dead man, pallid and wan.

Here–reclining about on cushions of silk and velvet–were several beautiful girls in various attitudes of indolence and ease,–one laughing, black-haired houri was amusing herself with a tame bird which flew to and from her uplifted finger,–another in a half-sitting posture, played cup-and-ball with much active and graceful dexterity,–some were working at gold and silver embroidery,–others, clustered in a semicircle round a large osier basket filled with myrtle, were busy weaving garlands of the fragrant leaves,–and one maiden, seemingly younger than the rest, and of lighter and more delicate complexion, leaned somewhat pensively against an ebony-framed harp, as though she were considering what sad or suggestive chords she should next awaken from its responsive strings.

Balancing atop this odd construction, seeming more cranelike than ever as he bobbed up and down, bending to poke and pry among the osiers, Llonio soon gave a glad cry and waved excitedly.

The custom of decorating graves was once universally prevalent: osiers were carefully bent over them to keep the turf uninjured, and about them were planted evergreens and flowers.

Evergreens, however, had been planted about the grave of the village favorite, and osiers were bent over it to keep the turf uninjured.

Farther down, Sibbi bending like an Egyptian over a bowl of osiers and sun-mummified flowers, Sibbi with her magical face and her bright shallow brain, and her husband Arthur, a bear, at the eternal business of his pipe, knocking out dottle, refilling it, that rank black tobacco odour woven by now into the scalding incense of every room.

The Prince of Mona had made his way to a clump of osiers, and Taran glimpsed him tugging away, trying to uproot them.

Tebrick harnessed the horses again, though he was so cold he could scarcely buckle the straps, and put his vixen in her basket, but seeing that she wanted to look about her, he let her tear away the osiers with her teeth till she had made a hole big enough for her to put her head out of.

It would often fly to a perch near the log Myrddin had drawn up at the door of his hut and which he used for a work place, weaving baskets from osiers brought from a mountain lake, grinding some half-wild grain from a weed-run field.

The screen of osiers parted and we were looking down a steep bank to a dew pond.

Had Thénardier, illuminated by that fearful thirst for liberty which changes precipices into ditches, iron gratings into osier screens, a cripple into an athlete, an old gouty into a bird, stupidity into instinct, instinct into intelligence, and intelligence into genius, had Thénardier invented and extemporised a third method?

Mazeppa ignored the racket, and settled onto his belly beside a growth of red osier on the riverbank.

How To Make $56,000 Growing Woody Ornamentals

With over 100 species of woody ornamentals grown commercially, how does a new grower choose the best ones? The first step is to do a quick screen to make sure the plant you want to grow will do well in your “microclimate” of soil type, plant hardiness zone and sun exposure.

Willow Stems

To use a popular example, let’s take a look at willow. The Salix species has been around far longer than humans, and has adapted to grow in a wide range of conditions from arctic to tropical. Humans have long used willow shoots to make baskets, furniture, fencing, floral arrangements and fuel.

Today, willow is still a popular material for all those uses, which is why it can be such a profitable plant. Growers are selling dormant willow stems to florists for arrangements, as live cuttings for plantings, and as value-added products such as furniture and crafts. Willow stems are sold directly to crafters, at farmer’s markets, to retail and wholesale florists, even on the internet.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture recently prepared a report about growing willow for profit in their state, and found a few surprises. One grower they interviewed mentioned the demand for willow stems was so high they were unable to keep up with it. The researchers found that an acre of well-managed willow could produce 4-5 tons of salable willow stems. With retail prices for basketry stems at $7.50 per pound, an acre could produce a gross income of $60,000 to $75,000.

Here are a few pointers for prospective willow growers to consider:

  • Willows prefer a deep, rich soil with adequate water. A drip irrigation system can boost production at drier sites.
  • Willow plants are started from dormant 12 inch cuttings taken from 1 year old willow shoots.
  • Cuttings are planted in the dormant season – November to March – by simply sticking them in the ground with 9 inches of the stem buried. A metal planting rod is used to make sure the bark is not damaged.
  • Basketry willows can be planted as densely as 10-12 inches apart, with just a 3 foot spacing between rows.
  • New plants are cut back to the ground at the end of the first season to ensure multiple stem growth the next year.
  • Willow plants have a 20 year lifespan before replacement is necessary.
  • Deer are the biggest pest problem, but can be controlled effectively with an electric fence. Visit gallagherusa.com to learn how to keep these critters out without spending a fortune.
  • Harvested willow stems, also called rods, are sold by the pound and sorted by length and variety.

Although willow can be a very profitable cash crop for growers, don’t overlook the dozens of other valuable woodies that are available. Planting a diverse mix of species is a sensible form of insurance for most growers. To learn more about growing woody ornamental, read Growing Woody Ornamentals For Profit.

Willow, A New Old Crop

By Marilee Williams
Do you have marginal land that is too wet for conventional crops or pasture? Would you like to raise a perennial crop that requires minimal care and provides an annual harvest? Then maybe basket willows are in your future!
A hardy, adaptable and handsome plant, willow (genus Salix) has many valuable uses. It grows from temperate zones to the arctic and from coastal plains to mountains. Most willows are dwarf shrubs to small trees, though some can grow to a height of 80’.
Cultivation for biomass energy production has put willow in the news recently, but it can be grown for more traditional uses, too. When woven into baskets and furniture, willow is called wickerwork. It can also be formed into trellises and plant supports or woven into fences called wattle. Certain species of willow develop long, pliant shoots in summer which makes them particularly well-suited for weaving. Its quick growth makes willow perfect for erosion control. Annual harvest of each season’s shoots provides useful cuttings while leaving the roots in place to protect and stabilize the soil.
Willow cultivation is simple. Moderately fertile, moist soil in a sunny location will support a willow plantation. By planting a cover crop for a season or two, you can get a jump on weed control. Careful planning of plant spacing to accommodate cultivation equipment or mulching around the plants will also help suppress weeds. As for any crop, prepare the planting site by tilling and applying needed amendments.

Willow backpack. Photo by Bonnie Gale.

Planting Stock
Ten- to twelve-inch long cuttings of one- to two-year old willow branches make suitable planting stock. These can be purchased or gathered from the wild. Any willow can be woven but the best varieties have long, flexible shoots with little core, or pith, as these contain the greatest percentage of wood and will make the most durable willow products. You can cut a branch from a willow in the wild to observe its interior and test the flexibility.
When creating your own cuttings, portions of the lower two-thirds of the willow branch should be cut into planting lengths with a very sharp knife. A smooth cut surface with little injury to the bark will ensure the greatest chance of success. To speed identification in the field, cut the top end straight across, with buds pointing up, and with the end to be planted cut at an angle. This angle allows for easier insertion into the prepared ground as well as ensuring that the proper end is planted.
Willow cuttings can be taken any time during the dormant season. After cutting into planting lengths, bundle with the growth direction aligned. Store the cuttings in moist sand or sawdust in a cool spot indoors or outside in the shade of a building, covered with straw. It is essential not to let them dry out.

If gathering your own cuttings isn’t to your liking, a quick search on the Internet will provide the names of nurseries which offer willow for sale. Many of the species they sell are decorative and enhance landscape design with their beautiful and various bark colors. This trait can also add color to the woven products you create with your willow, though the colors are more subdued as the cut willow dries. Some willow growers may provide detailed descriptions of the characteristics of the species they grow, such as average annual length of the rods or whether the rods are thick and sturdy enough for furniture.
Spring Planting
As soon as the soil is frost-free in the spring, willow can be planted. The twigs can simply be pushed into the soil if the planting bed is soft and friable. Firmer soil may require a hole to be created first by pounding a metal rod into the ground. With either method, each cutting should be planted deep enough that only one or two buds remain above ground and the soil should be firmed around it to prevent it from drying out.
If rains are sparse, you’ll want to irrigate your newly planted willow plantation. Remove weeds by pulling or cultivating. Mulch, if you can, as this will help retain moisture and keep weeds at bay.

Looking for a willow design class in NYS?

  • Bonnie Gale of English Basketry Willows is a professional willow basketmaker
    located in Norwich, NY and is offering several classes in 2013.
  • Click here to view the schedule and some of her work.

Harvesting
Willow is harvested during the dormant season. This can be any time after the leaves have fallen and before growth starts in the spring – usually November through March. If you can time your harvest to occur during the waning moon, the vitality will be strongest in the root system, which will help ensure future harvests. Cutting the rods when temperatures are above freezing will prevent the wood from splintering and improve the harvester’s mood as well!
Use sharp clippers and cut the rods carefully for the first couple of seasons, to avoid uprooting the young plants. If the first year’s rods are not long enough for the weaving that you plan to do, they can be used for more cuttings to expand your willow plantation. With adequate moisture and weed control though, the second season should provide plenty of very useful lengths of supple weaving rods, anywhere from 4’ to 9’ long. No matter the length, willow intended for weaving must be harvested every year, so the rods remain pliant, with no branching.
The willow rods should be cut as close to the ground as possible, sorted by variety and gathered into bundles of a size that is easy to handle. Tie the bundles in several places to keep the rods straight. Then store them in a dry place, upright, leaned against a wall or lying flat. Placing them in the trusses or rafters of a barn or garage will keep them out of the way but allow good air circulation for even drying.
Creating Your Products
The best part of willow culture comes next: weaving your rods into useful and attractive items. The dried rods should be sorted by length so you have exactly the size you need, ready when you need it. Untie the bundle of dried rods and place them cut end down in a large, deep container, such as a barrel. Pull out the longest rods from the bundle and set them aside. Then pull out the next longest rods and lay them crosswise of the first bunch. Continue in this manner, criss-crossing the bunches, until you have sorted the entire bundle. You can then re-tie each bunch and you’re ready for soaking.

A living willow dome in Amagansett, NY. Photo by Bonnie Gale.

Willow can be woven “green”, directly after it is cut, but as it dries it will shrink and lose nearly half its thickness. Green weaving should be done tightly and beaten well, but it will still shrink and loosen as it dries and the basket or fence you create will be less sturdy. Furniture should never be woven with green willow. The strongest and most durable products are woven from dried willow that is soaked to make it pliable. And if you are putting this much effort into growing, harvesting and weaving, you surely want your basket or chair to last as long as possible!
Several methods are used to prepare willow for weaving. The bark may be stripped off and rods may be split or dyed, but those techniques require more tools and time. The easiest method is to just soak and weave, being sure to soak the larger rods for a longer time and keeping the rods as straight as possible while they are wet. There are many books available on weaving baskets and trellises and building willow furniture. A class with an experienced basket weaver is a great way to learn proper technique and how to use the basket-weaving tools as well as to be inspired by a master, but it is not essential for making beautiful and useful products. Become inspired by a new old crop and let willow fire up your imagination and let loose your creativity!Growing Trees For Profit

Growing high-value trees for profit is an ideal part-time or full-time business for anyone who enjoys being outdoors and working with plants. Trees are a valuable and renewable resource that can be grown in a tiny backyard or on a 100 acre tree farm.

The most profitable trees for most small growers are those in demand by buyers, are reasonably easy to grow, and bring above-average prices when sold. Unlike traditional trees sold for saw logs and pulp, high-value trees are sold at retail prices to homeowners and landscapers, hobbyists who use the wood or tree shoots to make everything from baskets to guitar backs, or trees planted for their valuable fruits and nuts. Here are ten trees worth growing:

1. Instant shade trees. Landscapers and homeowners often want larger, more mature trees to provide “instant shade” in a year or two, and are willing to pay much higher prices for those trees. Most instant shade trees are sold in ten to fifteen gallon pots, with a well-developed root system to allow rapid growth once planted. Two popular tree species for instant shade are the Red maple and the American elm.

2. Flowering dogwood. The dogwood is on every landscaper’s list of top 10 trees, proving both lovely spring blooms and colorful fall foliage. The Kousa dogwood is one of the most popular varieties, as it also produces a crop of sweet red berries, is disease resistant, and best of all, deer leave it alone.

3. Thornless locust. Common locust is widely used in restoration and erosion control projects. Newer varieties, such as the Shademaster and Sunburst locust, are thornless and fast growing, making them popular for landscaping projects. They are also a popular instant shade tree, growing to a mature height of about 25 to 30 feet in just six years. The small leaves break down quickly after they have fallen, and require no raking.

4. Heritage fruit trees. Today there is a renewed interest in the heritage fruits, especially apples popular in the 17th and 18th century. Esopus Spitzenberg, for example, was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple, and Calville Blanc d’Hiver was a dessert apple grown for King Louis XIII in the 17th century.

Other popular varieties include Baldwin, Blue Permain, Winesap and Winter Banana. Once you’ve tried these tasty antique apples, you’ll be hooked, as they offer a range of flavors not found in today’s bland commercial apple varieties, bred for their shipping qualities, not taste and flavor. New growers with an acre or more are growing them for fruit, as well as selling these proven varieties as dwarf trees, popular with homeowners who have only a patio or small yard.

5. Hybrid chestnut. Researchers have developed several blight-resistant chestnut varieties that combine the best qualities of American and Chinese chestnut trees that can be grown in most areas of the U.S. Chestnut trees can be grown on land too hilly or poor for other crops, and produce 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of nuts per acre. Another plus is the high timber value of chestnuts at maturity – almost as high as black walnut.

6. Black walnut. Walnut trees, like chestnuts, produce a double income, as the nuts can be harvested as the trees are growing to harvestable size for timber. Growers often call black walnut a “legacy tree” because it takes about 30 years to reach it’s prime harvesting size of about 16 inches or so for a veneer log. Along the way, the walnut stand can be thinned to provide income, but the real payoff comes at harvest, as veneer logs bring between $4,000 and $5,000 each. An average stand of black walnut is 250 trees per acre, or $125,000 at harvest time, quite a legacy for the kids or grandkids!

7. Bonsai trees. The bonsai business is booming, as more and more people become collectors of these wonderful tiny trees. Bonsai trees allow city dwellers, who have limited yard space, or even no yard at all, to enjoy the beauty of trees in their homes. A bonsai business is perfect for small growers with limited space, as bonsai trees take up very little area, and can generate substantial profits. Some growers specialize in starter plants that are ready to train, while others prefer to sell trained plants, as the profits are higher. For bonsai growers with patience, mature “specimen” trees can bring hundreds of dollars from serious bonsai collectors. The internet has created even more interest in bonsai, and also provides a new marketplace for growers to sell their bonsai plants to a much wider audience.

8. Willow. The market for craft fibers, or wood that can be woven, has tripled in just a few years as more folks take up basket weaving and fiber arts. It is now possible to grow willow shoots, also called rods, in a rainbow of colors, which are in demand from florists and crafters. Willow is easy to grow and very prolific – one tree can produce hundreds of salable shoots each year. In addition, willow is used for restoration and conservation projects.

9. Japanese maple. These lovely trees are always in demand by homeowners and landscapers. It just might be the perfect tree for a small specialty tree nursery, as there is demand for both smaller trees for those on a budget as well as larger “specimen” trees for those with deep pockets. Also, there are hundreds of named varieties, in both red and green, and in the two types, broad leaf and cut leaf. The smaller size of most Japanese maples makes them an ideal tree for container growing, so hundreds can be grown for sale in even a small backyard nursery.

10 Christmas trees. For a while, it looked like “real” Christmas trees were an endangered species, losing ground to artificial trees. Now that has reversed, with artificial tree sales declining since 2007, and the number of real trees increasing every year, with over 21,000 small family growers across North America. For those with an acre or more of usable land, Christmas trees can be a very profitable choice, as prices for fresh-cut trees average about $42, and an acre can hold about 1,800 trees. Many who take up Christmas tree farming have found they make more money selling greens and wreaths every year than from cut trees!

Because small-scale tree growing takes just a few hours a week, most small growers are part-timers. Tree farming is a great way to earn extra income for those who enjoy seeing plants grow. If you’ve ever thought about starting a small tree nursery, or tree farming, learn how to do it right in GROWING TREES FOR PROFIT, which covers the essentials of growing and marketing all these high-value specialty trees.

Part 1 – sourcing your materials

One of the joys of homesteading is being able to spend an afternoon, crafting something that you need, with your own hands, out of materials that you grew yourself. There is a deep satisfaction in knowing that your materials are renewable, organic, sustainable, and readily available when you want to make something. There is profound pleasure in the making, enjoying both the process and the fruit. Basket making is like this. Each basket that you make renews your joy and increases your skills. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of this ancient art. Not only is it a joyful pursuit, but it will give you a way to supplement your income, should hard times come.

When you learn basket making from a kit, with materials sourced overseas, your first attempts look pretty good, but lack the rustic charm of a basket made with local materials. I encourage you to weave from wildcrafted materials and enjoy the exercise and fresh air that harvesting allows.

This is a several part article because to give you everything you need to know from start to finish would require a book. Instead I’ll break it down into brief lessons and when I’m done you’ll have a good resource that you can refer back to online.

Choose straight willow branches from first year growth

Willow basket weaving uses round willow weavers and rods from 1st year growth. In the second year the tender bark on first year branches becomes hard and woody and the weavers lose some of their suppleness. In the 2nd and 3rd year, the straight rods will branch and become stronger. 2nd and 3rd year branches work well for willow furniture making, but lack the flexibility of 1st year branches. As a general rule, first year branches have coloured bark and peel easily in early spring, just after the sap rises. 2nd year branches silver over and the bark becomes thicker and harder. By the 4th and 5th year, your willow plantation will boast logs that are big enough to be used as fence posts, fence weavers, or fuel logs.

Traditionally every farm in Europe and in the early years of North America, maintained a willow plantation that served as a wind break, a shelter belt for livestock, a hedge grow where medicinal plants were found, and a place to find materials for fencing, furniture making, and basket weaving. These were not accidental and wild, but were planted intentionally with special varieties of willow, hazel, fruit and nut trees, herbs, and berries. If you have an old homestead, you may have one of these areas, grown over and just waiting for managed harvesting to bring it back into production.

Basket weaving needs straight, unbranched weavers for both rustic and refined baskets. Special willow varieties, traditionally used for basket making, can be grown and harvested every spring, and by the third year of annual harvesting, will provide materials for several baskets. If you have a willow tree already growing on your place, you can check it’s suitableness for basket weaving by taking a green, 1 year branch and bending it around your wrist. Basket weaving varieties are supple and will bend without breaking.

Good quality willow rods

  • Are long, thin, and free of branching
  • Have a constant diameter along their length
  • Are pliant and elastic
  • Have a small pith relative to the amount of wood

How to grow a willow plantation of your own

If you find a suitable variety on your property, you can grow your own willow plantation by harvesting several first year rods, and using those rods as cuttings to start a fresh plantation. One advantage of this is knowing that this particular willow clone is already growing well in your climate and soil conditions and will thrive in a new spot.

Prepare the ground for planting

Choose a well-drained part of your property. Contrary to common belief, willows do not like to have their roots constantly wet. Prepare the ground well by weeding and adding humus or finished compost into the soil. Firm in the soil. Cut the rods to 10 inches in length with an angle on the bottom, so that you can discern the bottom of the rod from the top. Push the rods into the ground where you want them to grow, leaving about 4 inches above the soil surface. The willow rod will grow leaves above the ground and roots below. Mulch well or lay down a weed block. You’ll need to water well during the first and second growing season and keep the planting weed free. In the second Spring after planting, you’ll be able to harvest the rods and allow the stool to keep producing. Protect this immature planting from livestock grazing, A well maintained willow plantation will give you willow rods and willow weavers for more than 25 years.

Harvesting the willow rod

You can watch a video of how to harvest willow rods here. Willow stools that are properly maintained will give you years of harvests. Ideally willow rods for weaving baskets should be harvested in the spring, after the sap begins to flow and before bud break. This is when the bark will peel the most easily. Although it’s not necessary to peel the willow bark, you may want to in order to use it medicinally. If you want to do this, do it when you harvest the rods, rather than waiting for the rods to dry.

Dry the brown willow rods

While you can weave with green, freshly harvested rods, your basket will be sturdier and the rods will be more flexible for weaving, if you dry the rods for at least a month, and even up to a year or more, before soaking them and using them for weaving. As the basket dries after weaving, green rods will shrink and your basket will have gaping holes and loose weavers, if made with freshly harvested rods. Dried and soaked weavers, tend to retain their size and shape on drying, after the basket is made.

So as a rule of thumb, if you are weaving a quick harvesting basket, that you only plan to use once or twice, go ahead and weave it with green, freshly harvested rods. If you plan to weave a basket that you hope will have a few seasons of usefulness, allow the rods to dry for at least a month (or for years) before soaking them for basket weaving.

Bundle the harvested rods according to length, and thickness. Tie the bundles in 3 places to keep the bundle secure. As the rods dry, the bundle will shrink and your ties will become looser. You can retie the bundles once they are completely dry.

Preparing the rods for basket weaving

Pick a bundle of willow matched for width and length. You’ll need about 70 – 80 rods to make a medium size basket. This basket will be rustic and without a handle. If you wish to put a handle on the basket you can add an additional 20 rods to the soaking tub.

Soak your Willow

Soak them in a bath tub in hot tap water. Lay a weight such as a building brick or 2, on top of the bundle to immerse it. After a 24 hour soaking, your rods will be ready to mellow and use. Drain the bathtub. Stand the willows upright and allow the majority of the water to drain off, while you hold them. Wrap them with a dark towel. The tannins in the willows may stain the towel, so use a towel that you don’t mind messing up.

Let them lie in the towel, keeping them wrapped so they don’t dry out. This step is called mellowing and ensures that the moisture is evenly distributed throughout the rod, preventing brittleness.

Now you are ready to begin your basket. As you work, keep the rods wrapped, to keep them from drying out. Mellowed willow rods should be kept in a cool place and used within 5 days to a week — prevent them from moulding while they mellow. If you need to leave your work, wrap your working basket in a towel as well to keep it from drying out. If it does dry before you are finished, you can spritz it with a spray of water or be soaking it again, briefly.

Part 2 coming next week

In the next part of this tutorial, I’ll show you how to start your basket and weave the bottom.

My very favorite willow basket weaving book:

Dunbar Gardens willow cuttings

We sell willow cuttings for propagation. These hardwood cuttings are an easy and reliable way to grow new willow plantings. The willow varieties in the table have grown well at Dunbar Gardens in northwest Washington. Most of them are very useful for basket making; some are good for hedges, living fences, sculptural work, or garden ornamentals. There will be variation in the color of both the fresh and dried rods. Order instructions and prices are further down the page. There are also planting and growing tips further down the page which are included with orders.

Update February 1: I have stopped taking orders for now. You can check back on April 1 to see what I have available after I have completed the orders in hand. Thank you, Steve.

Willow cuttings list of varieties: Here is a list and short descriptions of the willows we offer. You will also find several collections of varieties that we offer as packages further down the page.

Variety

Species

Coppiced Height & Color Fresh

Dicky Meadows

S. purpurea

5-8′ light green & red

Productive, great for baskets. Beautiful hedge.

Green Dicks

S. purpurea

5-7′ olive green & red

Great for weaving baskets

Leicestershire Dicks

S. purpurea

5-7′ green to red

Slender rods

Dark Dicks

S. purpurea

6-8′ dark red

Longer, larger with nice color. Holds leaves longer into fall.

Brittany Greens

S. purpurea

6-8′ mottled red over green

Long, nice for weavers, but soft not as good for borders.

Bleu

S. purpurea

5-8′ green to purple

Long, slender rods.

Hutchinson’s Red

S. purpurea

5-8′ red brown

Long, slender rods.

Light Dicks

S. purpurea

5-7′ pale red brown

Despite the name, dark rods.

Goldstones

S. purpurea

6-8′ golden green

Early catkins. Dried rods a vibrant green.

Jagiellonka

S. purpurea

6-8′ olive green to red

Larger purpurea.

Eugene

S. purpurea

5-8′ pale green to red

Good for weaving, long rods for living willow work.

Lambertiana

S. purpurea

6-8′ green to dark red

Some branching, rather large but very nice to weave with

Irette

S. purpurea

6-9′ light green to brown

Large rods, early fairly large catkins

Polish purple

S. purpurea

5-8′ green to red / purple

Some branching; dries dark brown. Good weaver.

America

S. purpurea

6-9′ green to reddish brown

Large stocky rods, living willow structures. Previously mis-identified as S. americana.

Richartii

S. purpurea

5-7′ brown

Very thin rods, a little branchy, holds leaves late.

Packing Twine

S. purpurea

5-8′ brown

Variety from Ireland available in 2021.

Purpurea x daphnoides

S. purpurea x daphnoides

5-8′ green to purple

Long slender dark rods.

Calliantha

S. x calliantha

4-6′ dark red

Slender rods, a purpurea x daphnoides hybrid

Black Maul

S. triandra

5-8′ brown

Classic British basket willow

Noir de Villaines

S. triandra

5-8′ dark brown

Nice brown color, rather large but nice weaver. Living fences

Noir de Touraine

S. triandra

5-8′ dark brown

Slender triandra. Living fences.

Whissender

S. triandra

6-8′ green

Dries light brown, nice aroma. Available in 2021.

Americana

S. americana

red

Available in 2021.

Harrison’s B

S. x rubra

6-10′ reddish brown

Stocky, but beautiful color and nice for weaving.

Harrisons

S. x rubra

7-10′ green

Large, stocky rods for living willow projects. Dries dark brown.

Continental Osier

S. x rubra

7-10′ green

Large rods for living willow, hurdles. Dries light brown.

Rubykins

S. koriyanagi

7-10′ brown

Early abundant pink catkins. Living willow work.

Flander’s Red

S. x fragilis

3-8′ green turning red in winter

Some branching, waxy stems. Not currently available.

Raesfeld

S. x fragilis

3-8′ green to red

Waxy olive green rods

Belgian Red

S. x fragilis

5-9′ green to red

Stocky rods, living willow structures.

Basfordiana

S. x fragilis

5-9′ yellow to orange tips

Many unbranched yellow rods after established

Britzensis

S. x fragilis

5-9′ orange to red

Branchy, beautiful color but difficult for basket borders. Lovely scent when dry.

Cardinalis

S. x fragilis

5-9′ yellow to red

Similar to Britzensis but more yellow

Farndon

S. x fragilis

6-9′ orange to red

Great winter color. Good for side weavers.

Natural Red

S. x fragilis

6-9′ yellow to red

Grows yellow, dries red.

Jaune de Falaise

S. x fragilis

5-8′ yellow

Slender rods, dries red.

Fransgeel Rood

S. x fragilis

5-8′ yellow to orange to red

Slender rods, dries red.

Kaat

S. x fragilis

6-9′ yellow

Large rods

Golden

S. xfragilis

6-8′ yellow to orange

Fairly slender rods, winter color.

Blue Streak

S. acutifolia

6-10′ white bloom on green to purple

Silvery white catkins. Can bloom from December through March. Nice ornamental.

Continental Purple

S. daphnoides

6-10′ purple to black

Beautiful dark stout rods.

Stewartstown

S. daphnoides

6-10′ purple to black

Dark stout rods. Early large catkins make nice floral cuttings.

Blackskin

S. myrsinifolia

5-9′ black

Black when fresh, soaks up dark red.

Bory Pescara

S. amplexicaulis

4-6’dark purple

Slender but branchy, holds leaves very late, small early catkins clustered on branch ends.

Bluestem

S. irrorata

Dark red covered in powdery white in winter.

Southwest native, winter ornamental, not vigorous.

Fanny’s White

S. x fragilis decipiens

5′ Light brown or cream

White Welsh willow. Available in 2021.

Nancy Saunders

S. purpurea

2-5′ red

Fine red stems, nice small shrub, a little brittle when weaving

Nana

S. purpurea ‘nana’

2-5′ brown, red buds

Very fine rods, small cuttings make propagation difficult.

How to order willow cuttings:

Update February 1: I have stopped taking orders for now. You can check back on April 1 to see what I have available after I have completed the orders in hand. Thank you, Steve.

The best way to propagate willow is from dormant hardwood cuttings; so we have to limit the sales to the winter months. We start taking orders in December and cuttings are shipped from early February through late April to accommodate your planting date. We are happy to answer your questions about willow cuttings year round.

To order send an e-mail to [email protected] with the name of the varieties and the quantity of each you would like to order. Please include your shipping address with postal zip code. I will send you an email invoice by way of PayPal. (You do not need a PayPal account.) You can use the link to pay securely online with a credit card or you can mail me a check made out to Dunbar Gardens. USA only and no telephone orders please.

Orders will be shipped Priority Mail. Please give me an idea of when you would like to receive the cuttings for planting. Approximate shipping dates for 2020 will be January 28; February 4, 11, 18, 25; March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; April 7, 14, 21, 28. You are welcome to change the date later since the weather is tough to predict. If you live in a very cold climate and won’t be planting until late May, we suggest you purchase your cuttings from a source that can accommodate you better.

Our production of willows for Katherine’s basketmaking and classes allows us to select good sized cuttings to insure successful rooting in your garden. Our cuttings are 10-11 inches in length. Full size rods for living willow fences and structures 7-10 feet in length are available only at the farm for pick-up.

2020 Willow Cuttings Prices:

Minimum order for new customers is $60 ($80 including S&H)

$1.75 each (minimum 5 per variety) Please order in multiples of 5 Can’t decide which to order? We offer several packages with a reduced cost of $1.50 each.

Basketmakers package: some reliable varieties for basket making. 5 each of Dicky Meadows, Bleu, Jagiellonka, Dark Dicks, Purpurea x daphnoides, Harrison’s B, Black Maul and Noir de Touraine. 40 cuttings for $60

Color package: some choice color selections from our collection. 5 each of Blackskin, Blue Streak, Britzensis, Continental Purple, Farndon, Jaune de Falaise, Natural Red, and Calliantha. 40 cuttings for $60

Purpurea package: Salix purpurea varieties are good choices for producing slender unbranched rods in many locations. Less likely to attract deer or diseases. 5 each of Dicky Meadows, Bleu, Jagiellonka, Light Dicks, Dark Dicks, Leicestershire Dicks, Lambertiana and Eugene. 40 cuttings for $60

Living willow structures and garden trellis package: 5 each of Eugene, Harrisons, Harrison’s B, Irette, Jagiellonka, Raesfeld, Rubykins and Continental Purple. 40 cuttings for $60 Tip: If you only want to grow willows for one structure or fence, I suggest that you buy one or two varieties rather than this package.

Please note that I may have to substitute varieties in the packages depending on availability when they are shipped.

Shipping and handling costs are $20 per order except Washington State residents who pay $12 plus sales tax based on destination. Orders over 500 cuttings will have additional shipping charges. Planting instructions will be included with the order. Have questions about cuttings or willow growing? Please read the info below about planting, growing and coppicing willows. More questions? Please e-mail [email protected]

Prices for full size rods:

We sell full size rods for living willow structures and fences for $3 to $5 each depending on size for pickup on the farm only. Please email for more info. We do not sell dried willow rods for basketmaking or weaving.

Planting willow cuttings and growing tips:

You can grow basket willows in a wide range of soil types, but they prefer well drained soils in full sun. The willows will grow in almost all areas of the US and are very hardy. Willows in general have a tendency to be variable to climate and growing conditions. Your willow bed should ideally be free of any perennial weeds. Get your willow growing area ready the year before you plant. The soil is often too wet in the early spring when you will want to plant the cuttings. Some people choose to plant through a weed barrier fabric. Make sure you cut larger enough holes in the poly to avoid girdling of the stem as the plant grows in subsequent years.

Spring is the best time to plant willow cuttings. February through May. You can leave the willow cuttings in your fridge until you are ready to plant them. Plant when the ground has thawed and danger of hard frost has passed. If you garden, a good time to plant coincides with early crops like peas or when daffodils are blooming. Later is fine if it allows you to prepare the area and control weeds.

Willow cuttings root easily. Plant by simply pushing the cuttings into the ground with the buds facing up. If the soil is rocky or compacted, make a hole with a dibber for each cutting. Try to plant the cuttings 6 to 8 inches into the ground. Leave 2 or 3 buds above the soil surface. Firm the soil around the planted cuttings.

Maintain and check for adequate soil moisture during the first summer. Minimize competition for water and sunlight from weeds or other plants. Mulching the plants can be helpful.

new willow planting at Dunbar Gardens

Spacing of the willow cuttings depends on several factors including how the willow will be harvested, how weeds will be controlled, variety, and soil fertility. We are using a spacing of 6 inches in the row by 32 inches between rows for most of our basket varieties. We have also used 12 inches by 24 – 36 inches. Wider spacing is appropriate for producing large rods for garden structures, trellises, or living fences; or when growing in poor soils. Hedges can be planted in a single row spaced from 12 to 24 inches; or a double row planted 24 inches apart with the plants offset.

Basket willows are usually coppiced to the ground annually, including the first year. Only an inch of the original stem needs to be left above the soil the second spring. Find more info and photos about coppicing here on our blog. This approach will give you more straight and uniform rods. We do leave some rods to grow for two or three years for sticks, stakes, and for peeling.

You can choose to grow all your willows as pollards which is an attractive landscape feature. Attractive hedges can be produced by coppicing alternate plants in alternate years just before the willow leafs out in the spring. The result is a hedge that will look good year round; highlighting the winter rods that are more colorful in the first and second years growth. Take a look at our webpage about basketry willow for some more information and photos of the willow at Dunbar Gardens: basketry willow.

Spike inspects the basket willow

WILLOW

In 1988 I planted the first willow cuttings here at Willowglen and it seemed then and now that the plants of the genus ‘Salix’ and I were meant to grow together in this lifetime. The utilitarian notion that a gardener can grow a renewable source for garden fences and plant supports or baskets and sculpture appeals to my German and Dutch heritage. Now after twenty years and hundreds of thousands of sticks later I find myself just as excited about the potential of willow as when I started.
Please contact me by phone or email if you want more information about any of the following:

  • Dried & fresh willow for weaving, trellis & fence work
  • Hardwood cuttings
  • Custom baskets for sale
  • Classes & workshops can be arranged

MATERIAL
I grow 3 acres of cultivated willow – some I harvest each year and they grow to be beautiful straight rods varying in length from 3-8′. These are graded by length and sold by the dry pound ($10/pound – with a discount for over 10 pounds). The number of rods per pound varies with the length of the rods. Visit with me about your project and I can help figure the amount you’ll need. Larger diameter willow is also available ‘green’ or dried.

In spring, I also have long rods (6-8′) that are held ‘green’ (as opposed to dried) for use in living willow structures. Prices of these start at $85/bundle of approximately 100 rods. These need to be planted before the end of June (in the upper Midwest). Visit with us concerning planting strategies for this kind of project. These long rods are very difficult and expensive to ship – it’s best if we can make arrangements for you to pick them up.
CUTTINGS
Why not start your own willow patch? Hardwood (non-rooted) cuttings are available to get you started. Cuttings are $1.50 each plus shipping, with a minimum of 20 cuttings, please.
Varieties Available for Cuttings:
Salix purpurea ‘Green Dicks’ – slender rods dry buffy brown
Salix purpurea x daphnoides – dark stems when dry
Salix ‘German Basket Willow’
Salix ‘Iowa Green’
Salix alba ‘Britzensis’ – orange yellow stems
Salix alba ‘Vitellina’ – egg yoke yellow stems
Salix ‘Belgium Red’ – chocolate brown stems when dry
Salix ‘Russian Silver’
Salix americana
Salix sachalinensis ‘Sekka’ – Japanese Fantail
Assorted unnamed ornamental pussy willow & native willows
Confused about how to begin? Try Lee’s Willow Starter Pack – 5 cuttings of my 4 favorite varieties (S. ‘Green Dicks’, S. purpurea x daphnoides, S.’German Basket Willow’, and S.’Vitellina’), just $30 plus shipping.
Planting instructions are included with orders

BASKETS
Custom made baskets are available by order. I favor the traditional ‘stake & strand’ construction which make great garden, shopping and laundry baskets – strong and functional. Prices vary.

WORKSHOPS AND CLASSES
Willow Plant Supports & Garden Trellis Classes are available – get a group of friends together and we can arrange a class – either here at Willowglen or at your location. Call for more information and fees.

You can call them willow hedges but maybe a more accurate term? “Fedges” = fence + hedge. Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix (Latin for willow), a grouping of 400-ish species of deciduous trees and shrubs. Willow are native to moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Almost all willows take root very readily from cuttings. Young, thin willow cuttings are known as withies, longer willow rods are known as whips.

Why a Willow Hedge?

Willow is often used for streambank stabilization (bioengineering), slope stabilization and soil erosion control. Willows are often planted on the borders of streams so their interlacing roots protect the bank against the action of the water. Their roots are often much larger than the stem that grows from them. See how to plant willow cuttings to prevent erosion at a streambank:

How to Build a Willow Hedge

Simply make a hole in the ground with a metal bar, then insert the willow cutting. Weed control is important when starting a willow fedge and the cuttings should be planted into a weed barrier that allows water penetration, otherwise the weeds might suck away a bit of vitality from the young willows. As a general rule, shorter cuttings establish and grow best without competition from weeds, whereas longer cuttings have more stored energy and can handle a bit of competition. Willows prefer full sun but will accept part shade. Willows are also very adaptable as per water conditions once they are established and will also survive in poor quality soils. Image: www.yorkshirewillow.co.uk

Living willow fence at Vevey Garden, Switzerland. Willow rods are pushed into the ground at an angle. The tops are tied to a horizontal, weaved in withy to give stability along the top. Willows have high levels of auxins, hormones that promote rooting success. The hormone is so prevalent that “willow water” brewed from willow stems, will encourage the rooting of many other plant cuttings as well. Image by Barbara, OvertheMoon / Flickr.

The angled rods tend to sprout along their entire length, while the uprights oft times sprout from the top only. Botanical Gardens of Wales. Photo by Libby / Flickr.

Living willow hedge panels by Green Barrier of Scotland. Living hedge sections come in pre-constructed 1m widths and in heights from 1.2 to 2.5m. They are planted directly into topsoil to a depth of 60cm (2 feet), to provide support while the roots grow. You can find cell-grown willows at External Works.

Use Salix Viminalis and rub off the new shoots on the lower portions of the rods to achieve this open look. Image: livingwithtwistedwillow.blogspot.com

Salix ‘Americana’ planted in Canada. Ties are used to secure the structure while it becomes established. More pictures of this fence can be found at Willows Growing and Working With Willows website.

Same hedge as photo above, yet one year later. The fence was trimmed back once in the early fall. Fence and photo are by Lene Rasmussen, as found at salix-willows.blogspot.com.

A wood frame with tall, straight willow branches stuck vertically into the soil and intertwined into the frame. Caution, willow roots are aggressive in seeking out moisture; for this reason, they can become problematic when planted near cesspools or drainage areas. They should also not be planted close to a building due to their roots aggressive and large size. This photo was discovered on modmissy.com.

Buying Willow Hedge Materials

One of the best places to find willow tree cuttings for sale is on eBay, where you’re often buying direct from the tree’s owner.

If you don’t want to go the “grow-it-yourself” route, Gardener’s Supply Company has a terrific selection of willow fencing and expandable willow trellises.

Maintaining Your Willow Hedge

The living fedge structure will require periodic pruning and weaving of new growth. By Green Barrier Fence, Europe and Canada.

“During the summer any side-shoots are rubbed off to keep the lattice work of the fence clear of growth, but the top three or four buds are allowed to grow out. These shoots are trimmed back to the top of the fence in the winter.” From Living with Twisted Willow.

Living willow fence by Wassledine, Bedfordshire, UK. Additional cuttings can be added to secure the base. As they grow the lower shoots can also be woven in to thicken the fence.

Heavy pruning at the top encourages growth at the bottom.

14 Of The World’s Coolest Living Willow Hedges

1) Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society’s Garden

Living willow fence at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Yorkshire. Picture was found on rchsblog.wordpress.com

2) Fence With A Diamond Pattern

Three willow stems woven into a diamond pattern. The tops are tied to a horizontal withy to give some stability to the top. Photo: Peter D’Aprix: www.vegetablegardener.com.

3) Circular Willow Hedge

A post shared by Jill (@misty_marsh) on Feb 11, 2017 at 7:37am PST

The circular patterns in this willow fence took time. You can see the intricate weaving of the willow on the top rings of the structure.

4) Willow Fence With Flowers

Living willow fence. Photo by Barbara, OvertheMoon / Flickr.

5) Vegetable Garden Surrounded By A Fedge

Living willow hedge surrounding a vegetable garden in France. Design: Judy and David Drew. Photo by Nicola Browne via GAP Gardens.

6) Living Willow Arbor

Lush new growth on the willow arbour at Whichford Pottery, Warwickshire.

7) Arch At Bealtaine Cottage

Willow arch at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland. You can also buy seeds on the Bealtaine Cottage website.

8) Living Willow Arch

Living willow arch. See resources below for willow arch kits. Photo by Daniel originally found via “https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6058809040”

9) Thick Willow Fedge In Norway

#willowfence #pilgjerde #visitnorway #sunnhordland #norway #norwegen

A post shared by Randulf (@purenaturglede) on Jun 10, 2017 at 1:43pm PDT

In Norway, this thick fence provides a large amount of privacy.

10) Willow Arch In England

Living willow arch. A 4′ x 7’6″ x 2′ arch installed for 130 pounds in Suffolk, England. On their website, Natural Fencing sells living willow arches.

A living willow arch. As photo above, but in winter. Photo can be viewed at www.naturalfencing.com.

11) Willow Fedge By Ryton Organic Gardens

Fedge in the winter at Ryton Organic Gardens. Living structure kits by Ryton Organic Gardens can be found at www.thewillowbank.com.

12) An Urban Willow Fence

Living willow privacy screen in urban settings. The photo was found at englishbasketrywillows.com. More information about fedges can be found at the English Basketry Willows webpage.

13) Sitting Area With A Willow Arbor

Living willow dining arbor to protect you from the sun. Kit for sale here: www.thewillowbank.com

14) Stunning Dappled Willow

A rose in front of Hakuro Nishiki or Dappled willow. This is just a shrub not a fedge, added here because this willow variety is striking. The slender leaves emerge as glossy bright pink, then mature into a white, green and pink variegation. Regular pruning encourages the best color. Stems are red in the winter. Prefers moist soils. Image via: davesgarden.com

The Willow Palace

In 1998, natural artist and architect Marcel Kalberer created the Auerworld Palace, a pavilion made of living willow trees. It is also known as the “mother of all willowpalaces.” It has become a tourist attraction for the region between Weimar and Naumburg, Germany. Photo found at www.arcprospect.org.

Willow Hedge Online Resources

Yorkshire Willow: Seventeen willow varieties for fencing
Bluestem Nursery: Willow for living structures
Bluestem Nursery: Which willow where
Vermont Willow Nursery: Varieties of willow
Buckingham Nurseries: Read about the different Willow Species for Hedging

Popular Species for Willow Hedges

Rods are available in 1.5m, 2.0m, 2.5m, 3.0m and 3.5m lengths.

Salix Viminalis (produces long, straight rods without many side shoots)
Salix Tortuous (Corkscrew or Curly Willow)
Salix Alba Vitellina (Golden Willow)
Salix Alba Chermesina (Scarlet Willow)
Salix Purpurea (Chou Blue)
Salix Sachalinensis (Sekka)
Salix Triandra (Black Maul, grows fast)

How to Make Willow Water

Root azaleas, lilacs, and roses by soaking two large handfuls of pencil-thin willow branches cut into 3-inch lengths in two quarts of boiling water and steep overnight. Refrigerate unused water.

How to Protect Willow Hedges from Deer

Deer will eat willow when there is nothing else to eat. But if you desire your edge trimmed periodically this might not be a bad thing. Willow rebounds quickly. Salix Purpureas is the most bitter and therefore least-eaten willow.

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