Nope, this blogpost is about Salix and my first tentative steps at planting up our garden. The first watch words in Orcadian gardening are 'shelter belt', to provide conditions for other plants to grow. In some ways, this is like choosing a sacrificial lamb (o-oh, veering Buffy-wards again!) to take the brunt of the prevailing winds and the most obvious candidate is Willow. Opinion is divided upon whether it is the best provider of shelter, but it's certainly the cheapest to source and easiest to plant.
Following my trip to Orkney ZeroWaste's Spring Fair and Plant Sale last month, I was the proud owner of 160 cuttings of what I think is Grey Willow, Salix cinerea, one of the native Orkney willows. (7th April 2014. See note below for further clarification, Thanks again Jenny!)
|Here's one of several bundles, keen to bud|
So, putting all perfectionist and pedantic thoughts to one side, I roughly cleared a swathe 23m long and 0.5m wide. This was to make room for the first double row of planting, beginning in the bottom southern corner of the garden and progressing along the south-westerly boundary.
When I say 'roughly cleared', I meant removing the Docks. The Willow will have to take its chances with the dandelions, buttercups, various grasses, thistles and heaven knows what else. Well, they are native trees, so they must have got the hang of coping with this sort of stuff, you'd think?
|What's up, Dock?|
|I do wonder if these have a use...|
|Doesn't look very promising, eh?|
|The first bundle is placed in position ready to be planted|
|This is my kind of gardening!|
|OK, Pink Floyd fans, think of it as another stick in the wall.|
The cuttings went in at about 0.5m intervals and then the second row was planted 0.5m inboard of that, but offset by 0.25m.
|Yeah, I know it's not straight. Jeez, lighten up!|
The next step is to repeat the above, but along the south-easterly boundary, at which point I will have run out of cuttings. No worries, there's a plan...
Note: The cuttings I got at ZeroWaste were not native willows - the bundles contained mostly some of the biomass willows that were grown by Orkney College (fast growing Salix viminalis hybrids, long narrow leaved) plus maybe a few of the Salix hookeriana (which is a North American willow with wider silvery leaves). We wait with bated breath for growth and leafage, so that we can attempt to decipher the Salix code.