Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Pollard willows

Thinking of Holland, I see a landscape of pastures and small paths between two ditches of water with on both sides rows of pollard willows. These willows are not only planted to hold the path firmly between the water, but for centuries, these trees provided farmers with sticks and wood for the garden, brooms, the fireplace, fencing, and other domestic functions.

January and February are traditionally the best months to top the willows; it is the month in which farmers and gardeners do not have much tasks to finish. It's an easy cut; just remove all branches closely to the trunk. Then strip the branches you would like to keep (the straight and thick ones) from its side-branches.

It is a good idea to have one or more pollard willows in or close to your garden. Every one or two years it provides you with nice firm and flexible sticks for your garden, such as for bean stakes or partitioning. The thinner and more bendable twigs can be used in making a small wired twig fence (google 'making a willow fence' for some pretty ideas). Also think of great little green huts or arches! Every willow twig that is put in the ground, no matter how small or terrible you cut it, will grow and produces green leaves, and eventually more twigs to continue this process.

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