A shortcut to spring

Well, it’s not a real shortcut. It’s -2° this March morning and we’re covered by snow, but it feels like spring in all our grocery stores. Greeting us at the doors are the true harbingers of spring, bundles of daffodils in large displays selling for less than a couple of bucks each. Next to those blooms, there is the other harbinger of spring, tall stems of pussy willows willing you to purchase a bunch and take them home. I don’t think we’ll see either one in our New Hampshire garden for weeks and weeks.

Tete-a-Tete, Boston Flower Show 2017

I buy the cheerful daffodils to hurry along spring but have ignored the pussy willows until yesterday when I came upon ones I couldn’t resist… Japanese fantail willow, Salix udensis ‘Sekka’, an ornamental willow with contorted branches that I love to use in flower arrangements.

fantail willow 3/7/2019

The stems of the fantail willow are a bit twisted but it’s the wonderful tips that flatten out and curl in interesting formations. The fuzzy catkins are small and numerous. I could keep them in water and watch the catkins mature to a soft yellow, but I’m keeping them dry to preserve this stage of development for floral arrangements to use over and over.

fantail willow 3/7/2019

I did trim off a small twig for rooting. I’ll keep it in water in a sunny window and hope to see small roots forming in time. We’re the right zone to transplant the willow to the yard… not the right plant for my small yard, but nearby in a daughter’s landscape will be the perfect site for future harvesting.

fantail willow 3/7/2019


21 thoughts on “A shortcut to spring

  1. Oh my! Willow is not something to grow intentionally. I know it is often done with curly willow, and we actually planted a golden weeping willow. Yet, the red willows or swamp willows are difficult to control in the riparian areas. Goodness, they are everywhere, even in the gutters on the roof!

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    • Alas, I know all about the pitfalls of willows. The curly willow is especially a monster that I was always pulling up in Virginia and once had to hire a company with special equipment to pull up a willow tree in the middle of a pond. I would only grow this one willow though and harvest the best branches, then cut it all the way to the ground each spring. Unfortunately willow is a favorite of deer. It might not survive the herd that populates my daughter’s landscape in the middle of a large protected woodland park.

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      • You know, now that I think of it, pussy willows are still not grown here. I saw one in Los Angeles years ago. There may be some about, but I would not recognize one if I saw it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, the common pussy willow isn’t the most desirable shrub but it certainly has its uses in the landscape. I can’t say the same for the curly willow. Just hope my Japanese fantail develops roots.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice post. I echo Tony’s concern with willows, but here the deer keep them well-pruned. Your -2 degrees makes me feel a bit better about our sunless 21 degrees, but we’ve had no good snow insulation at all for the plants when our temps were way below zero multiple times this winter. It will be interesting to see what has survived.

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  3. Hi Anne, As always, I just love reading your Blog and I am always inspired 😁 I just looked at Churchill & Hannaford…so, my question is where did you find the fantail willow? Thanks so very much, Mimi

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    • Hi Mimi, I found the fantail willow at one of the florist shops…. Exeter Florist. I went in to order some flora for our upcoming Ikebana Workshop and voila… a bucket of contorted willow. Fingers crossed that I can root a little.


    • Hurry up spring! Even though it snowed all day today, I can see signs of spring in swelling buds around the yard. The willow is a thirsty plant so I know my landscape would not be suitable. My daughter’s home is a much better location for a willow. Fingers crossed…

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  4. If it were minus two degrees here I would need a shortcut to spring too! We hit 80 degrees on Saturday. I enjoyed the photos of the willows as I don’t think I have ever seen any. They would make creative arrangements. May real spring come your way soon! Cheers!


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