garden whispers 03 sibrydion gardd

Coppicing willows

One of my favourite contrasts is between a fan of upright orange willow shoots and the still flat surface of water on a winter morning. To see the view next winter, hurry on to do some instant pruning.

Many willows and dogwoods respond very favourably to being cut back hard each year. You can cut them down to the ground or better, on a short leg which stays from year to year. The resulting colour on unbranched shoots is far stronger than if the shrubs are left to their own devices (although the sight of a mature tree of Salix alba Chermesina seemingly on fire, does make a stunning sight on a misty morning.)

Cultivars of dogwoods such as Cornus alba Sibirica respond just as well. You could do it every other year if you also enjoy the berries which look like eyes on sticks but don’t try it on the ‘flowering’ dogwoods like C. kousa – they will display their displeasure in the usual way!

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