Pruning weeping pussy willow

You’ve probably heard of Japanese artist known as Rokudenashiko (“good for nothing girl”), who was arrested in 2014 for sending the 3-D data of her genitals to patrons of her successful crowdfunding campaign to create a vagina-shaped kayak.

And although the Japanese-language press echoed the police’s description of her as a “so-called” artist and orchestrated a public shaming, your reaction was likely to be one of disbelief. That a woman could be arrested in this day and age for such an act — and in a country where sexually explicit manga and imitation-vagina sex toys are sold at convenience stores — seemed absurd. Surely the police had more “obscene” things to go after?

What is Obscenity?, by Rokudenashiko, Translation by Anne Ishii.
168 pages
Koyama Press, Nonfiction.

It seemed not. The police were quite serious. They detained Megumi Igarashi, who made work under the pseudonym Rokudenashiko, for a week before she was freed by a legal appeal. She was then arrested again in December of the same year, as was the female owner of a sex shop where Rokudenashiko had displayed her work. She was later indicted and faced trial in 2015, in which prosecutors sought a fine of ¥800,000. Their verdict is due on May 9, just before she is set to leave for a North American tour for her new book. Her publishers fear she may miss the trip.

The book — titled “What is Obscenity?” — is a manga that illustrates Rokudenashiko’s battles with Japan’s legal and penal system, as well as her personal and artistic history. The central theme is how male disgust and censorship of her work have only galvanized her to fight harder for the female sex organ’s right to be treated with respect rather than fear or revulsion.

The book is an amusing, infuriating and poignant read: from her treatment at the hands of petty police and prison officers, to the way family and friends shunned her even before her arrest, and her public shaming after it. Rokudenashiko’s struggles are portrayed with humor, but also anger. Her public persona and the cutesy aesthetic of her “vagina art” — including frilly pink figurines, bejeweled iPhone cases, and dioramas featuring miniature figures frolicking among vaginal landscapes — belie a difficult past that once drove her to contemplate suicide. They also conceal her real self: an intelligent, gutsy woman determined not to let the patriarchy win.

The English translation of her book is smart, sassy and up-to-date; in trans-aware 2016, the book is careful to note that only “cis females” are born with vaginas — “cisgender” is a relatively new term used to describe people who are not transgender. Cultural references are also explained for those unfamiliar with Japanese culture, from Mami, the sweet Morinaga-brand milk drink that Rokudenashiko is served with her prison meals, to the scandal of a Tokyo assemblywoman subjected to sexist jeers from her male counterparts in 2014.

The manga also details various incompetencies and slip-ups by the authorities. Rokudenashiko was informed neither of her right to remain silent nor her right to a government-funded lawyer. And neither the police nor judges knew what crowdfunding was, despite her arrest being predicated upon it. The book illustrates the dismal conditions and harsh, arbitrary rules in Japanese prisons that are designed to drain inmates’ morale.

Rokudenashiko, however, refused to be broken down. She was historically extraordinary for refusing to make a plea bargain or allowing the police to draw out an admission of guilt in a country with a 99 percent conviction rate and a reputation for forced confessions. In fact, in her account she wore down investigators by having them repeat an extremely vulgar term that references the female sex organ, which Rokudenashiko says they found so embarrassing that they seemed to become increasingly reluctant to question her.

This example illustrates how much shame is elicited by the word, which is mainly used in erotic or pejorative contexts. Rokudenashiko points out Japan’s hypocrisy when it comes to male and female genitalia. While representations of penises are relatively common in Japan — with enormous pink ones used in celebrations at an annual festival in Kawasaki — female genitalia is considered too rude to even mention and is usually referred to with the word “asoko” (“down there”), even by medical professionals.

But the police’s attitude to male and female genitalia is actually quite consistent in terms of censorship. In Japanese pornography all genitals must be pixelated. And not long after arresting Rokudenashiko, the police also ordered the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art to remove displayed photographs of nude male bodies.

Why do the police consider genitals obscene? In her book, Rokudenashiko quotes Article 175 of the Japanese Penal Code that says obscenity is “anything eliciting sexual desire, excitement or arousal in vain, or that violates a reasonable person’s sense of propriety or principles of righteous and moral sexuality.” However, the actual definition of what is “obscene” is left up to interpretation.

Takeshi Sumi, Rokudenashiko’s court-appointed lawyer, says it is absurd that her artworks and the vector file of her scanned vagina could be construed as titillating. Another lawyer on her legal team, Takashi Yamaguchi, said at a talk at Tokyo’s Temple University in 2014 that police are fighting to keep the obscenity law in practice rather than simply on paper, with genitals as the final frontier. Erotic texts, general nudity and pubic hair are no longer considered obscene. Yamaguchi believes the police fear exposed genitals becoming socially acceptable because it would be seen as a loss of power.

Whatever the reasoning, Megumi Igarashi’s story is enough to make you scream out from the injustice. The fact that she was put on trial for transgressing the same ridiculous standard she sought to challenge is infuriating, but we can only hope that her struggle isn’t all in vain. At the very least, let’s hope she will change the discourse in Japan on sexual inequality — and enable all women to embrace their “shameful,” but sacred, body part.

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Last month it took more than 20 firefighters to free a US student who had become trapped inside a giant sculpture of a vagina in Germany. But genital art elicited a very different response in Japan this week, when police arrested an artist for distributing data that enables recipients to make 3D prints of her vagina.

The artist, who works under the pseudonym Rokudenashiko – which roughly translates as “good-for-nothing girl” – was arrested after emailing the data to 30 people who had answered a crowd-funding request for her recent artistic venture: a kayak inspired on her own genitalia she calls “pussy boat”, according to Brian Ashcraft at the gaming website Kotaku.

The artist, whose real name is Megumi Igarashi, was held in custody in Tokyo on suspicion of breaking Japanese obscenity laws. Media reports said Igarashi, 42, denied the allegations. She pointed out that had not sent images of her vagina in return for money and did not recognise the scanned 3D data as obscene.

Kyodo quoted unnamed police sources as saying Igarashi had collected about 1m yen in exchange for the data.

While Igarashi’s art has a fun-loving and cheeky theme, her situation is serious as far as the law is concerned: if convicted she could receive up to two years in jail or a fine of as much as 2.5 million yen (£14,300/US$24,500), according to her lawyer.

Commentators have pointed out the hypocrisy of her arrest, which comes soon after Japanese authorities resisted pressure to ban pornographic images of children in manga comics and animated films.

The activist Minori Kitahara said police raided Igarashi’s office and seized 20 of her artworks. “Japan is still a society where those who try to express women’s sexuality are suppressed, while men’s sexuality is overly tolerated,” she said.

Igarashi has made a name for herself with her Decoman “Decorated Vagina” series of sculptures. The titles of the works incorporate the word “man”, from manko, the Japanese for vagina. Igarashi said she was once asked not to use the word Decoman during a TV appearance.

Because female genitalia were “overly hidden” in Japanese society, “I did not know what a pussy should look like,” she said in an online post. “I thought it was just funny to decorate my pussy and make it a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how people get upset to see my works or even to hear me say manko.”

One of the works, described as a “vaginal battle scene”, shows a group of toy soldiers taking cover in an unmistakeably pudic crevice; another diorama titled Fukushiman – a “taboo on top of taboo” – shows workers at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in similar surroundings.

She has also designed iPhone covers and recently posted an image of Gundaman, a figurine based on the popular anime character Gundam, sporting an oversized vagina, according to the Japanese art and design website Spoon & Tamago.

Igarashi has said she is on a mission to “demystify” female genitalia in Japan, a country where thousands flock to an officially sanctioned annual penis festival in Kawasaki every April.

The Japanese Artist Persecuted for Her ‘Pussy Boat’ Vows to Keep Fighting

Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi has been battling obscenity charges since July 2014, when she was arrested and charged for distributing files to make 3-D printed models of her vagina.

Japanese authorities intercepted the 3-D data that she emailed to donors who ultimately helped crowdfund her Pussy Boat, an oceangoing, vagina-shaped kayak and art project.

Igarashi, who is 45 and goes by the nom d’art Rokudenashiko (“Good-For-Nothing-Girl”), was arrested and charged again in July 2014 for exhibiting other vagina-related works in a Tokyo adult-entertainment shop.

The project was titled Deco-man—“man” being an abbreviation of manko, Japanese for “pussy”–and featured small pussy boats, a pussy lampshade, a remote-controlled pussy car, a pussy smartphone case, and so on. Authorities confiscated her cellphone, laptop, and other belongings, and Igarashi would spend, in all, 30 days behind bars.

In May 2016, a Japanese court found Igarashi guilty of obscenity and fined her ¥400,000 (at the time, around $3,600). The 3-D data she’d distributed was deemed “obscene,” according to a draconian 1907 law, because it could have been used by recipients to create an arousing sex-toy replica of her vagina, the court said in its ruling.

Her Deco-man works, however, qualified as art under Japanese law because—unlike the 3-D data of her vagina—the pussy boats and other sculptures could not be used to turn people on.

Igarashi has appealed the court’s obscenity ruling on the basis that distributing 3-D data was crucial to her Pussy Boat art project.

Now, Igarashi is teaming up with PEN America for their new Artists at Risk (ARC) initiative, which launches today and is dedicated to protecting artists from censorship and government punishment.

The initiative provides resources for threatened artists, including housing opportunities, emergency funding, fellowships and grants, and residencies through an interactive online catalogue available in over 100 languages. PEN also hopes to unite organizations that can provide even more resources to threatened artists around the world.

“I think by raising awareness about artistic freedom and how art is under threat around the world, hosting speaking engagements with artists and amplifying their voices, we will ultimately have less censorship,” Julie Trébault, director of ARC for PEN, told The Daily Beast.

‘It made for a good gimmick, so I went through with it’

Originally a comic book writer, Igarashi made her first foray into manko art, or “pussy” art, with an illustrated accompaniment to her account of having cosmetic surgery on her lady bits.

In Japan, these kinds of stories are called “experience manga,” with manga referring to cartoons and comics. (Igarashi writes extensively about experience manga in her graphic memoir, What Is Obscenity? The book was published last May, the same month that Igarashi was found guilty of obscenity charges.)

Getting the surgery provided blockbuster writing material, though she admits in her book that she also wanted a “nicer looking vag.”

“I was curious about the procedure and no one had written a manga about it,” Igarashi wrote in an email interview with The Daily Beast. “It made for a good gimmick, so I went through with it.”

The manga was a “big hit,” she said, and it precipitated opportunities to do other manko-related stories, but she soon struggled to find fresh angles for her manko series and eventually abandoned it.

“After the gimmick lost its weight, I decided to commemorate my new pussy with a cast,” Igarashi said. “What the cast revealed, though, was obviously a pussy without the labial flaps—frankly a really boring flat mold. So I took a cue from the bedazzled cellphones that were all the rage with teenage girls, and bedazzled and painted my Deco-man.”

When Igarashi first showed the colorful cast to her friends, she was surprised that no one guessed it was a vagina until she told them. The cast quickly became a subject of fascination among her peers, one of whom interviewed Igarashi about her Deco-man for an online publication.

The reception was not what she expected.

“The second that article went live, I received all kinds of hateful, insulting comments about how gross and smelly my pussy must be,” Igarashi said. “That’s when I first started to really question people’s hateful and phobic attitudes about pussy, and when ‘Manko Art’ officially came to be. Spurred by the online slander, I decided to make Deco-man my life’s mission.”

In the three years since she started making manko casts, Igarahshi now sees manko “every day,” she said, noting that her work—including Deco-man workshops—has made it easier for other women to talk more freely about sex and genitalia.

“People came bewildered and were embarrassed at first, but then after we all got to putting our casts on a table and decorating them together, their inhibitions around pussy gradually faded,” she said.

Seeing so many different “shapes and color of pussy” also changed her attitudes about women’s genitalia, she said. “I realized that my opinions had been poisoned by prejudice.”

Looking back now, she’s realized her cosmetic surgery was “unnecessary.” But she doesn’t regret it; if she hadn’t gone through with the procedure, she wouldn’t be making manko art today.

‘Most women don’t know what an “average” pussy looks like’

With the porn industry’s tendency to fetishize Asian (particularly Japanese) women, it’s easy to forget that Japan is a deeply puritanical culture.

Hardcore porn is freely available to anyone in the world with an internet connection, but adult films produced in Japan are still required to pixelate genitals and penetrative (including oral) sex.

“Most women don’t know what an ‘average’ pussy looks like, and they’ve been told all their lives that it’s gross and dirty to talk about it,” Igarashi said, adding that Japan’s prudish culture has perpetuated body dysmorphia among women.

“We don’t know what to look for, so we convince ourselves that to meet men’s desires we have to have pink fleshy pussies like young girls, and then needlessly get corrective surgery like the procedure I had done,” she said.

Igarashi is now determined to help change moralistic Japanese culture (simply uttering the word “pussy” is taboo, she says) with her manko art. She also hopes that court cases like hers will make Japanese authorities less inclined to censor artists.

Government censorship of her work has made Igarashi an activist, even though her views don’t align with Japanese feminism.

“When I started making Deco-man, I made a conscious effort to attend more feminist art shows, but I frequently found them to be too heavy and painful” when the subject is the plight of women’s plight, she said. “I believe it’s important to express pain, but I personally didn’t feel better afterward.

“I think Japanese feminism has stopped penetrating because it comes with the image of a dour old lady who’s angry all the time,” she continued. “To be frank I think it has failed as a movement.”

She approaches her manko art with a certain levity, she said, both for her own mental and emotional health and to avoid turning women off.

“People prefer to do things that are fun, interesting, and easy to relate to,” she said. “They don’t want to feel tortured, angry and sad all the time.”

The “light-hearted” nature of her work has provoked criticism from more hardline feminist artists, she said, who insist she’s not an artist.

But Igarashi isn’t discouraged. “These slanderous critiques only give me a springboard for work,” she said, adding that she enjoys thinking of new ways to piss off her critics.

Manko art is Igarashi’s way of trying to wear down “the male hegemony,” as she put it, particualrly with regards to Japanese authorities.

“I have effectively created an arts practice by angering the police, so they are part of my art, too,” she said.

Igarashi is nonetheless outraged over the obscenity charge and Japan’s refusal to adopt a more progressive attitude about sexuality.

“It is 2017 and I’ve been convicted of obscenity by the Tokyo High Court for sending a downloadable 3-D file to crowdfunders,” she said.

Asked about the calls for censorship of Dana Schutz’s controversial painting at this year’s Whitney Biennial in New York City, Igarashi said she understood and appreciated the activists’ perspectives in this case, but those perspectives shouldn’t mitigate a fundamental right to freedom of expression.

“I find it somewhat terrifying that it was artists who called for the destruction of art,” she added.

As for the pseudonym, Igarashi said created it when she started writing manga about sex. Now, after the jail time and three years spent fighting obscenity charges and agitating for free expression, she views the pseudonym as a way of poking fun of herself.

“People sometimes try so hard to find meaning in everything until things become so serious to the point of not seeing what’s right in front of them,” she said, noting that this seriousness often makes people more stuck in their ways.

“My name was a way of taking that load off our backs,” she said, “and now I think it’s a means of keeping myself objective.”

I searched the creek banks near me several times in the last few weeks for pussy willows. There were once several stands of them, but that was before beavers moved into the creek, built a dam, and took down dozens of trees. The beavers have since been relocated to another area, but too late to save the pussy willow trees.

I decided my only course of action to have an Easter arrangement with pussy willows was to buy a bouquet of them. I did so, vased them up, placed them on the mantel, and waited for the catkins to burst through the brown buds. It never happened. My pussy willow branches must have been cut and left dry before they were sold. The twigs are not alive, their catkins will never burst out of the tight buds.

In the meantime, I read an article on preserving pussy willows. I didn’t know I could remove the bud case around the catkin by hand.

This is not as easy as it sounds…and creates a lot of mess.

Removing all the buds took about a half hour of time, but it was worth it. The arrangement looks better with catkins reflecting the light.

Pussy willow is the common name used to identify willows that bare soft fuzzy buds or catkins on leafless twigs in late winter or very early spring. It belongs to the Salicaceae family. These willows are favored for their beautiful shimmering catkins and their very early spring bloom, as well as their ornamental use.

Where to Get Your Plants

Pussy willows can be purchased from most greenhouses or garden centers in pots. While growing them from seed is possible, it can be difficult.

They can also be grown by taking a cutting and placing it in a vase with water. The cutting will rapidly form roots and be ready to be transplanted to a pot. Use a high-quality potting mix and keep the soil moist. Transfer the potted cutting outdoors and allow it to harden off in a protected area before transplanting it into the ground. Add a generous amount of peat moss or well-aged manure to the planting hole. Plant them in full sun and, as with many species of willow, provide plenty of water.

Maintenance

Pruning a pussy willow will keep growth in check and allow you to shape the tree. The optimal time to prune is when the catkins are fading. Some people will severely cut the shrub back to 12 inches from the ground. This type of pruning is known as coppice pruning. Coppice pruning is often done to promote long and straight branches with a proliferation of catkins. Selective trimming is done to shape and clean up the shrub. Dead branches should be cleared out, and any stray branches that are disrupting the overall shape of the bush can also be removed.

Uses

Pussy willows are grown ornamentally for their beautiful catkins. They can be grown as specimens, informal hedges, or part of a shrub border. Some gardeners grow them for cuttings. These willows force easily, creating a little spring indoors in the middle of winter. Wait until several days of freezing weather have passed and then cut a few branches and bring them indoors. Put them in tepid water, and keep them in a dimly lit place until they bloom.

Preserve the willows for use in dried flower arrangements. Just cut them after the catkins have appeared and put them in a dry vase. The catkins will dry slowly and remain beautiful for months.

Common Pussy Willow Varieties

Two varieties are commonly grown.

Salix Caprea

Salix caprea is native to Eurasia and is a pussy willow tree that thrives in zones 4 through 8 and reaches 25 feet at maturity, although it can be trimmed to a shorter height for a hedge. This species blooms from March through April. Male trees bloom green and female trees bloom pinkish gray. Salix caprea is also known as goat willow.

Salix Discolor

Salix discolor is native to North America and is considered a pussy willow shrub that thrives in zone 4 through 8 and reaches 6 to 15 feet at maturity. Typically found growing in moist soils along the banks of streams and rivers, this species of pussy willow can also tolerate drier soil. Male shrubs produce a vibrant display of catkins that are very silky and pearl gray in color. Female trees produce catkins but they are smaller and less attractive than the males bloom. The catkins on both the male and female shrub are smaller than those found on the Salix caprea.

Problems

Pussy willows are prone to a number of blights and other diseases such as leaf spots, powdery mildew and cankers. A number of insects enjoy munching on the bark and leaves including aphids, borers, lace bugs and caterpillars. The wood tends to be rather weak and is susceptible to high winds and ice damage.

Attractive In Landscape

Both Salix caprea and Salix discolor provide great interest to a late winter early spring garden. Whether you use pussy willows as attractive deciduous shrubs or as a specimen trees, they are a worthwhile investment and provide early season interest in the landscape.

How To Prune Pussy Willows And When To Prune A Pussy Willow Tree

For many gardeners, nothing says spring like the fuzzy catkins of a pussy willow tree. What many gardeners don’t know is that you can produce better branches for catkins by pruning pussy willows. If you know how to prune a pussy willow tree, you can encourage long, straight stems which will look the best in flower arrangements. Even if your goal is just to keep your pussy willow plant tidy looking, taking time to trim a pussy willow bush will make it look lovelier in the long run.

When to Prune a Pussy Willow Tree

The first thing to learn when learning how to cut pussy willow trees is when to do it. The best time when to prune a pussy willow tree is actually when the catkins are on the tree. This will ensure that you trim the plant before it has started active growth, but you will also not inadvertently eliminate the young branches that the catkins grow on.

Techniques for Pruning Pussy Willows

There are two techniques you can use when deciding how to prune a pussy willow tree. The first is called coppice pruning and is meant to encourage the pussy willow plant to produce many long, straight catkins filled branches.

The other technique for pruning pussy willows is shape pruning and is meant to produce a full, more shapely pussy willow shrub.

Which technique you choose is up to you and what results you would like to achieve with your pussy willow.

Trim a Pussy Willow Bush with Coppice Pruning

Using coppice pruning means that you will severely cut the pussy willow back. The best time when to prune a pussy willow tree this way is right after the catkins start to fade. Trim the pussy willow down to 6 to 12 inches from the ground.

The plant will regrow rapidly over the summer and in the following late winter or early spring, and you will be rewarded with a multitude of pussy willow catkins on long, straight stems.

Trim a Pussy Willow Bush with Shape Pruning

If you desire to simply have a nicer looking pussy willow tree year round, then shape pruning will be what you need. While the catkins are on the shrub, harvest the stems that you will be using for flower arrangements and decorations.

Then, trim away and dead branches. After that, cut back any older branches by one-third. These can be identified by the fact that they are thicker and grey in color. Next, cut back the any young branches that are outside of the natural core shape of the shrub, or are growing inward towards the center of the bush.

Pruning pussy willows can help keep these bushes looking lovely. Now that you know how to prune a pussy willow tree to achieve your desired results, you can keep your pussy willow bush looking its very best.

This is how the Weeping Pussy Willow looked at the end of March 2014. As you can see, it’s developed a beautiful structure.

Here’s the alternate title to this post: How To Make Good On A Bad Prune Job. This Weeping Pussy Willow tree, or Salix caprea “pendula”, has been growing in my client’s garden for about 11 years now. I’m no longer her full time gardener as I’ve since moved south to Santa Barbara.

Over the years I’d been artfully pruning and training it but at the end of 2011 it got hacked by the new gardener (what?!). On five of my subsequent visits to this garden I’ve done restorative and cosmetic pruning. Much to my surprise it’s come back to its glorious self much faster than I thought.

A Weeping Pussy Willow tree is a plant not often seen in gardens here in California. My client, who lives just south of San Francisco, had been her eye on the one in the Wayside Gardens catalogue and finally ordered her coveted specimen. It arrived in a 2 gallon grow pot wrapped in paper and stood about 4′ tall.

We planted it with lots of compost in the moistest part of the garden where the all the water naturally drains off the hill. It had been growing slowly, and with 3 careful prune jobs a year, had developed a beautiful trunk form with a nice shape. So it was much to my surprise when I paid a visit in November of 2011 to discover that it had been “pruned” into what you see below. Action was required!

This is the Pussy Willow “blob” in November 2011. Hey, where’s the weeping?

We had affectionately call this plant “Cousin Itt”, but after a bad haircut, Itt had turned into Bozo The Clown! A weeping tree or shrub like this should be thinned out or just taken off the ground a bit – not all the way back to the trunk. The very same applies to a climbing roses as it takes them a good amount of time to climb and that’s what you want.

The picture above was taken in November of 2011 and fortunately some of the new branches had already started to weep by Spring. In May of 2012 I whipped out my Felcos and pruning saw. I’ll take you on a step by step on how I got this Weeping Pussy Willow back to its glory days.

A close-up showing how thick that new growth was.

I went in and took out a lot of that new growth. You must take it all the way back to a main branch or the trunk otherwise all those shoots will appear again. I also removed some of the older main branches to open it up and bring it back to an interesting form.

In the meantime, Cousin Itt had really started to lean because of the strong winds in this area so a lodge pole stake was pounded in to straighten him back up.

Here’s how looked after I was done. I left just a bit of the new growth shooting upward because we do want it to grow taller.

A close up of the inner structure after I pruned it this past Spring. As you can see, I’ve taken a lot out.

Lots of new shoots always appear on the trunk. Those shoots, the smaller ones coming off the main weeping branches and a portion of the ones heading upward need to be removed too. They’ll spoil the beautiful weeping form (and isn’t that the reason why you buy a plant like this?) as it’ll looks better when it’s thinned out a bit.

These standard plants are sold grafted and will never get significantly taller than the height you bought it at. And this is exactly why the Weeping Pussy Willow will never get as tall as the upright Pussy willow.

I’ve since done a post and video about how I care for a Weeping Pussy Willow tree which you might find helpful. I share all I know about it and outline the care tips.

I did a couple of rounds of restorative pruning letting it grow between each one. Then I started in on the cosmetic pruning and this Weeping Pussy Willow looks dandy as can be. Make sure you know how a plant grows and how long it takes to recover before you have at it with the pruners!

A Link To Help You Out:

Before you tackle a job like this make sure your pruners are clean & sharp.

Weeping pussy willow tree

I suggest no pruning for the first year or two to give the tree a good start. After that, prune in the spring after it flowers. After that, manage as follows:
Give the Weeping Pussy Willow a year or 2 to get going before pruning it. When it’s older & more established:

1) I remove all the sprouts coming off the trunk

2) Remove the branches that cross over other branches

3) Thin out main branches to open the plant up

4) Remove some of the smaller branches which are growing upwards. If you don’t want it to grow any taller, then remove all branches growing upward. This plant will slowly get taller if you leave some.

5) Remove some of the branches which grow laterally off the main branches. This branching tends to occur on the bottom half of the branches.

6) In all of the previous steps, be sure to take the branches you’re pruning off all the way back to a main branch. Otherwise, you’ll gets more lateral growth then you want.

7) Prune the branches up off the ground. Even though this causes lateral branching, You don’t want it smothering all the poor unsuspecting plants below.

Flowering

These harbingers of spring are not only loved for their weeping form but also for their flowers. Pussy willows have catkins which are actually inflorescences of many tiny flowers. The grey furry “pussies” (no dirty minds here please, we’re taking plant parts!) are what we love to cut on long branches & put in a vase in spring; or for us, it’s like winter. The masses of tiny yellow flowers will later emerge from those furry nodes.

Here are 2 reasons that your Weeping Pussy Willow may not be flowering:

1) Not enough sun OR

2) A late frost strikes after the catkins have started to appear & wipes out the flowering.

Best of luck. I hope this helps.

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