Cultivation

Sprouting Willow Cultivation and VarietiesA new willow is planted, usually through weed suppressant fabric, between December to March using a 12 inch long willow cutting. The willow will sprout branches, or rods, from the buds. The willow, depending on the variety, will grow between 2 and 16 foot in a growing season. The willow will then drop it’s leaves between September and November and is coppiced by hand every year between November and March. The willow can then be sorted into bundles of different lengths ready for weaving.
The images below show the willow at it’s growing stages over the months. As you can see in the last picture the willow is above head height.

Willow 6th May Willow 26th May Willow 5th June Willow 19th June Willow 14th August

The willow can be used in different ways:

  • Green
    This willow is used straight after it has been coppiced when it is still fresh. The willow will not need soaking but will shrink when it dries which sometimes makes the weaving loose.
  • Brown
    This willow has been dried after it has been coppiced and the bark left on. Before weaving the willow will need to be soaked. The willow should be soaked a day for every foot of length and then mellowed in a damp sheet overnight. The willow can also be steamed and this can be achieved at home using a wallpaper stripper. The willow can be pre-soaked and then finished off by steaming with the wallpaper stripper which gives a lovely colour and sheen to the willow.
  • Buff
    This willow has been boiled for around 8 hours to release the tannin in the willow and then stripped of it’s bark. Commercial willow growers have machines to strip off the bark but you can also use a willow brake and pull each rod of willow through the brake to remove the bark.
  • White
    White willow is the last willow to be cut once the sap has started to rise making the bark easier to remove.

Hatton Willow only supply bark on or brown willow because of the labour and machine intensive processes that are needed to produce buff willow, white willow and steamed willow.

Varieties

There are hundreds of varieties of willow consisting of many different sizes, thicknesses and colours. Hatton Willow currently grow the following willow varieties in Caerphilly, South Wales:

Black Willow Close up of Black Willow Common Osier Close up of Common Osier
Black Willow (Salix Nigricans)
Black willow dries to have a lovely black/purple colour. Yearly coppiced rods or whips grow up to 7 foot and mostly grow branchy. Lovely as an ornamental but side branches and straight rods can be used for basketry.
Purchase cuttings here
Common Osier (Salix Viminalis)
Common Osier can grow up to 16 foot in one year. It is mainly used for living willow structures, fedges and as the main stakes in willow hurdles but could also be used for furniture and as a short rotation crop or biomass willow for fuel as it’s so fast growing.
Purchase cuttings here
Scarlet Willow Close up of Scarlet Willow Chermesina Cardinalis Close up of Chermisina Cardinalis
Scarlet Willow (Salix Alba Chermesina)
This willow is a newly planted willow for us. We expect it to be dark red in colour and be able to be used in basketry.
Purchase cuttings here
Cardinalis (Salix Alba Chermesina)
Cardinalis dries to a lovely yellow/orange colour. It does grow quite branchy but side shoots can be used for basketry but it looks great in a vase as an ornamental. Grows 6 foot per year.
Purchase cuttings here
Contorted Willow Close up of Contorted Willow Continental Purple Close up of Continental Purple
Contorted Willow (Salix Tortuosa)
Contorted willow is great for floristry and as an ornamental in a vase in your home. This willow can be used with fairy lights to give a focal point in your room.
Purchase cuttings here
Continental Purple (Salix Daphnoides)
Beautiful purple colour which develops a white bloom once the willow has dried. Suitable for living willow structures but smaller rods can be used in baskets. Rods can grow up to 8 foot in one year.
Purchase cuttings here
Cohu Blue Close up of Cohu Blue Green Dicks Close up of Green Dicks
Cohu Blue (Salix Purpurea)
Cohu blue has lovely blue/purple bark and holds its furry catkins well if you coppice the willow at the right time. It looks lovely as an ornamental willow.
Purchase cuttings here
Green Dicks (Salix Purpurea)
Green dicks is a fine basketry willow with long and slender rods. Grows up to 5 foot per year and is a yellow/green colour. Perfect for fine baskets.
Purchase cuttings here
Flanders Red Close up of Flanders Red Dried flanders red
Flanders Red (Salix Alba Vitellina x Fragilis)
Flanders red is a great basketry willow with a waxy skin. Rods grow up to 7 foot and the willow has a lovely red/green colour when freshly cut and will dry to an orange colour. Flanders red can also be used as an ornamental willow because of the strong orange colour.
Purchase cuttings here
Dried Black maul White Welsh willow
Black Maul (Salix Triandra)
Black maul is the most well known basketry willow. At our site in Caerphilly it can grow up to 12 foot per year but this is unusual. It is brown colour and other willows can be used around it as a highlight.
Purchase cuttings here
White Welsh Willow (Salix Fragilis Decipiens)
White welsh willow is a pale colour and gives good contrast in colour in basket weaving. It will take a few years to give a good amount of rods if coppiced on a yearly basis.
Purchase cuttings here
  • Purple Willow (Salix Purpurea)
  • Norbury (Salix Purpurea)
  • Light dicks (Salix Purpurea)
  • Leicestershire dicks (Salix Purpurea)

To view pictures of the willow visit the gallery