Monday, May 28, 2012
Dappled Willow Hedge
The privet hedge on the side of our yard began to have problems. The ground it was planted in is mostly marl, a moist, clay-like dirt. While some of the plants were able to establish good root systems, others had shallow roots and after many years of providing a nice boundary they began leaning, which loosened their root grip even further and negated their hedge-like quality. When their leaves started to wither and their branches turned brittle, it was time to do something.
In browsing the nurseries last year, we came upon the Dappled Willow and immediately fell in love. The white foliage with pinkish tips had an exuberant appeal. We were told that they would only grow to about six feet, though we learned later that this might be a low estimate, and their branching would fill out to form a striking hedge. We amended the soil and planted the first of the hedge line. We waited to see if the willows would survive. They did and when the plants sent out leaves this spring we were entranced with the delicate quality they presented. The sun shined through the translucent leaves so that they seemed to glow. Our neighbor, who has a good view from his deck, commented on their attractiveness.
We planted the rest of the hedge so that now we have a full line of Dappled Willows to admire. We’ll prune them come early winter to encourage dense growth and maintain a reasonable size. Dapple willows are deciduous but the foliage comes out several weeks earlier than most deciduous plants, starting the season with a burst of beauty.
These willows are still young but, like toddlers, they already show their potential. They will fill out and grow and, I imagine, charm us as they do so.