A new willow is planted, usually through weed suppressant fabric, between December to March using a 12 inch long willow cutting. The cutting will sprout branches, or rods, from the buds and, depending on the variety, will grow between 2 and 16 foot in a growing season. During the Autumn the willow will then drop it’s leaves between September and November and is then coppiced by hand every year. 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.
The willow can be used in different ways:
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.
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 bundle of willow should be soaked a day for every foot of length and then mellowed in a damp sheet overnight. Brown 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.
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 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.
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 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 Black Maul cuttings
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 Black Willow cuttings
Brittany Blue (Salix Purpurea)
Purchase Brittany Blue cuttings
Brittany Green (Salix Purpurea)
Purchase Brittany Green cuttings
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 Cardinalis cuttings
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 Cohu Blue cuttings
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 Common Osier cuttings
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 Continental Purple cuttings
Dark Dicks (Salix Purpurea)
Purchase Dark Dicks cuttings
Dicky Meadows (Salix Purpurea)
Purchase Dicky Meadows cuttings
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 Flanders Red cuttings
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 Green Dicks cuttings
Harrisons B (Salix Purpurea x Viminalis)
Purchase Harrisons B cuttings
Hutchinsons yellow bark (Salix Alba x Fragilis)
Purchase Hutchinsons yellow bark cuttings
Jaune de Falaise bark (Salix Alba Vitellina x Fragilis)
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Leicestershire Dicks (Salix Purpurea)
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Light Dicks (Salix Purpurea)
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Norbury (Salix Purpurea)
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Packing Twine (Salix Purpurea)
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Purple Willow (Salix Purpurea)
Purchase Purple willow cuttings
Scarlet Willow (Salix Alba Chermesina)
Scarlet willow can grow up to 5 foot in one year. It is known for being branchy but is worth growing as you will get straight willow rods along with the branchy ones. This willow is green when cut but will dry to a bright orange. The colour can change to become brighter or darker depending whether it is left in the dark or light to dry
Purchase Scarlet Willow cuttings
Slender Tip (Salix Purpurea)
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Whipcord (Salix Purpurea)
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Whissender (Salix Triandra)
Purchase Whissender cuttings
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 White Welsh cuttings
To view pictures of the willow visit the gallery