Japanese Dappled Willow Sculpture (Salix integra)

Several weeks ago I told you of a little dappled willow pruning experiment I tried at my in-laws home.  Before I show you the results let me quickly revisit some characteristics of dappled willows and why I like these shrubs.

About Dappled Willows: Japanese dappled willows or (Salix integra 'Nishiki') are shrub willows that will quickly grow between 10-12 feet tall and enjoy moist soil conditions with plenty of sun. They begin each year with green dappled foliage and will eventually will sport new growth that retains a whitish-pink shade on the stem tips a little later in the spring. Dappled willows can be adapted as a hedge row, as a standard, or make neat living sculptures (as you can see in my first attempt below).

Dappled Willow Propagation: Like most willows Salix integra is very easy to propagate from cuttings either in water or just by sticking in a pot of soil. You can even take cuttings and stick them in the location you want them and they will grow into new plants. No special rooting hormones are needed since willows have good levels of auxins to promote root growth. Willows will reproduce via something called catkins. They are dioecious which means that willows have separate male and female plants.

My Favorite Features: The ease of propagation and the dappled appearance of the leaves make dappled willows a favorite shrub of mine. Because it is so easy to propagate you can use it to make a hedge row for a property border fairly quickly, which is how I've chosen to plant them.

The Willow Sculpture: A Willow Window

I began pruning the willow mainly to improve the walkways around it but as I pruned I noticed the oval shaped opening appearing toward the center of the plant.

From the main angle the window now highlights some of the garden art already in the garden.

The base of the willow will need to be pruned periodically to keep the window open. These suckers could be allowed to grow to 2-3 feet then cut back without compromising the window look.

Here is the same plant from another view. The foliage that has grown above the willow window will provide shade for the bench below.

Have you every tried any creative pruning like bonsai or topiaries?

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