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A colorful willow shrub for winter

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Recently I had a chance to visit a friend in Massachusetts. One afternoon we visited one of our favorites, the Tower Hill Botanic Garden.

As we drove in, I saw this orange-coral-golden beauty and thought it was the shrubby dogwood ‘Midwinter Fire’.

I love the color of this plant in the winter landscape, but in Virginia it suffers from leaf spot during the summer. So placement is important – back of the border where other tall perennials will shield it from my view during its awkward period.

I was wrong about the Tower Hill plant, though.

It was a willow – Salix alba ‘Britzensis. What a beauty! In the winter light it glowed. [See first photo at left.]

Other unusual willows

I have grown a couple of other willows:

  • The poodle-like Salix babylonica ‘Crispa’ – a weeping willow in all respects except that the leaves are tight curls.
  • The amazingly weird Salix sachaliensis ‘Sekka’, a deformed willow that has a fasciating virus that causes the branches to widen and curl (beloved by flower arrangers). [See second photo at left.]
  • And let’s not forget the ghost willow, Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’, so beautiful in spring with pink and white foliage.

I know they must all be pruned heavily to remain beautiful and not take over the landscape.


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