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Garden Reports and Rejoicing – March 25

I’ve admitted in the past that I’m a sucker for Salix. There’s something about most willows that captures my heart. Over the past week I’ve been struck by how beautiful the black pussy willows are. They are in bloom, and the transformation from fuzzy to pollen covered is lovely.

This particular plant, Salix gracilistylus ‘Melanostachys’, is one I picked up on the garden center floor. Literally. About six or seven years ago there were bundles of cut black pussy willow stems for sale, and as I walked past I noticed three or four twigs had broken off and fallen to the ground. On a whim I took them home and stuck them in a glass of water.

Even though these twigs had been cut and out of water for at least two months, two of them rooted. I potted them up, gave one away, and when we moved to Poison Ivy Acres five years ago I planted the remaining small plant on the side of the field.

No, it’s not a plant for several seasons of interest. For much of the year this willow is a gangly, undistinguished plant that the deer like to rub against. In the early spring, however, this Salix is wonderful. For me it will always be a reminder that sometimes things can root and grow even after long periods of being ignored or presumed dead.

If you want to dry them so that the black pussy willows remain on the twigs for a long time, cut them before they start to form pollen and don't place the stems in water. I love to watch the transformation, however, and the play of colors as the flowers develop.

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