Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Time for a Haircut

Last week I was sitting around shivering, wondering when, if ever, spring might show its face in south-central PA.  I got my answer today (March 8th) as the sun shone and the temps rose.  True to my calling (Master Gardener/Dirt-Digger/Plant Executioner Extraordinaire - I am sure there are others you can dream up, and they are probably all true), I set out for the backyard to decide what terror I could unleash.  After a short (and soggy) review of the winter damage (see my blogs, Winter Damage, part 1 and 2…), I decided that I could begin the trimming of the Coral Ember Willow.

Coral Ember Willow in a Winter Landscape

Some of you may recall my 2013 blog on this plant (Winter Interest, Part 10 - Coral Ember Willow, 01/22/13).  Real briefly, Salix alba ssp. vitellina 'Britzensis' is a fast-growing, vigorous, hardy, colorful large shrub.  Its inexpensive, gets large, gets woody, and wildlife likes it.  During the growing season, it is a good screen shrub, but is most interesting after the leaves fall off, with yellow, red and orange branches that glow in a snowy winter landscape.

Branch colors vary on the same shrub
It needs space.  My 11 year old model grew to over 15 feet this year.  My 3 year old's were over 6 feet.  It does need trimmed back every year before it leafs out if you have any interest in controlling its size.   That means cutting as much of the last year's growth (the colored branches) as possible.  The further back you cut, the better the color the following winter.

So yesterday I did my thing out there in the spring sunshine.  Evidence follows.

After the haircut (see branches on the ground)

Close-up of one of my younger pups
There is a lot of debris to get rid of.  Some get put in a bucket of water, so they can root and be started for the Master Gardener's plant sale (May 17, 2014; 9AM-1 PM at the Franklin County Extension Office grounds).  Others will be used for decorating and crafts, or making trellises for plants.  But I'm ready to see my willows start to leaf out again.

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