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Willow (Salix) is one of nature's colourful and adaptable building materials. It is easy and fun to create willow hedges, bowers, dens, arbours and walkways. For the more adventurous, wigwams, chairs and sofas would be challenging projects. You can make garden rooms, create childrens' play areas and provide privacy more quickly than with a more traditional hedge
Suitable for A range of colourful willow (Salix) species and cultivarsTiming Plant from winter to early springDifficulty Moderate
Salix alba var. vitellina (golden willow), S. daphnoides, S. alba var. vitellina 'Britzensis', S. viminalis and S. purpurea are especially good for making living willow structures.
Winter to early spring is the best time to work on a project, particularly as specialist growers harvest the stems at this time of year.
A fedge is a cross between a fence and a hedge. It can be used as an informal boundary between areas of garden.
In winter, when shoots are pliable, weave in the new growth to fill gaps in the design or strengthen the structure, but avoid directing shoots downwards as they will die.
It is possible to make two sets of living willow hurdles and fill the gap with soil which makes a solid structure. Permanent irrigation would be necessary as one of the features of the structure is that the sides of the walls root into the soil, so would need a constant water supply. Construction is best carried out by specialist companies.
Rabbits and deer are partial to willow, so protection may well be necessary.
Willow aphids are brownish-black and may affect willow plants in late summer. Stems may become sticky and sooty mould may develop on this honeydew which the aphids produce. Use any aphid control product. Wasps may be attracted to honeydew, but if aphids are controlled wasps will not be a problem.
Willow anthracnose, scab and canker are fungal diseases that can affect Salix.
Blog post: ways with willowCuttings: hardwoodHedges: selectionLiving structures: creating and maintainingScreens: plants for
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