Sunday 2 February 2020

Winter trim of the Willow Grove in Turnditch Orchard

Each year around November, we trim the willow grove in the orchard. In 2019 we were affected by the flooding in Derbyshire, so we had to postpone the trimming until January 2020. The job takes about two hours to trim approximately 70 willow stools (coppiced about chest high) to remove the year's growth. the thicker "wands" grow to 2 - 3 metres in length. We planted the willow to help dry a wet patch of the orchard where a historic drain route was in place before the nearby railway bridge embankment was built. We also use the wood to form willow spiling to reinforce the river bank. The salix viminalis strain grows too fast/thick to be of much use in basketry. We trim it each year to ensure we get single shaft wands with very little branching.  ach year we give cuttings away free to people who want to grow their own willow. It is very easy to propagate, just poke a willow wand/branch about 20cm in the ground and leave it alone until it grows too big. It thrives best in an unshaded location. The roots are highly tolerant of waterlogged ground.

The willow grove is well shaded and cool in the hot summer months. The plant is friendly to wildlife and insects. On the riverbank the roots of the spiled willow help to bind the soil together and reduce bank erosion.

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