Archive for the ‘willow’ Category

In praise of Willow.

In herbal remedies, willow on February 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm

There are 4 native Irish Willows, Goat Willow, Grey Willow, The Eared Willow and the less common Bay Leaved Willow. The Willow pictured above is Twisted Willow a non native that nonetheless grows very well here in Ireland. This one was grown from a cutting about 6 years ago and is 15 feet tall. All the Willows have a liking for damp ground and do well in our wet climate.

The flowers of the Willow which are produced from February-March are called catkins or pussy willows. The pussy willow name comes from the newly opened catkins resemblance to the paws of a fluffy kitten. Seeds can be obtained from the catkins in early Summer, however, cuttings take very easily so that is the usual method of propogation.

These cuttings, which were in a bucket of water have made strong roots in about 2 months. Ten new Willows for free!

The water in which Willows have been soaked in said to aid other plants in rooting. A friend of mine has a Dragon Willow which is really lovely. The bark is dark brown in colour and the branches are flattened, as opposed to round, as they get a bit older. I have taken cuttings from this a few times but none have rooted. Maybe this one only grows from seeds?

In recent years Willow has been much used in the making of fedges and living sculptures. It’s traditional uses would have been in making baskets of various sizes and types and for creels. Creels are a traditional basket for bringing home the turf. One would be placed on each side of a Donkey to carry home the important Winter fuel.

Ten years ago I did a basket making course with Joe Hogan, a brilliant craftsman who makes his living from basketmaking. Joe lives in Galway and a wonderful week was spent there by Loch na Fooey making baskets. The basket above is an Irish potato basket. The potatoes, when cooked would be emptied into the basket, the water escaped and the basket was placed on the table. I made 4 baskets under Joe’s tuition but sadly never made one since. I found that my hands were not strong enough for the work.

Willow is known to have healing properties. It is an old remedy for rheumatism, arthritis, muscular aches and all conditions caused by damp. It is interesting that the Willows grow in dampness but also cure conditions caused by damp. Nature being the cause and the cure!

The bark of Willow contains Salicin, which is made into Salicylic Acid, the origin of Aspirin.

Being of a watery nature Willow is governed by the Moon. In her book, The Sacred Tree, Glennie Kindred  says “The Willow speaks to us of the female side of ourselves, whether we are men or women. Being sacred to the Moon, it will help us keep in touch with our life’s rhythms, our dreams, and deep unconscious thoughts and feelings”.

A Visit to Seed Savers. part 1

In Gardening, Ireland, Off the beaten track., Uncategorized, willow on October 20, 2011 at 10:43 am

Whilst house sitting in County Clare last week I went to visit the Irish Seed Savers Association who are based in Scariff. Started in 1991 by Anita Hayes in Carlow they now have 8 hectares of land in East Clare. ISSA is a registered charity. They research, locate, preserve and use traditional varieties of fruit, vegetables, potatoes and grains.

Despite the wet day I walked all the land which is divided into orchards, vegetable growing areas, seed bank, Apple tree nursery and composting facility.

There is one orchard which is made up of 33 self-rooting Apple trees. When these trees have being growing for a few years they put out rooting nodules on the branches, these branches can then be taken off and planted to make a new tree.  This is the largest collection of these trees in the world.

There is also a small peaceful woodland. If you look closely you can see a group of  visiting school children through the trees.

A small pond surrounded by Willows in this quiet corner makes a lovely nature sanctuary. Actually the whole place is a sanctuary for nature as no chemicals are used on the land.

Due to the damp Irish weather seed saving here is a challenging task. Much of it is done in polytunnels.

Cucumbers are left to the over-ripe stage, they are perfect at this stage for saving seeds from as the seeds will be fully mature.

These lovely red Peppers will not grace any salad or cooking pot. They too are being grown for seeds. I was so tempted to pick one! Don’t worry I did’nt! I did however test a few Apples from the heavily laden trees!