Living Willow from Willows Nursery

FAQs

Set out below are questions that we are often asked – we hope that our replies will be of help to you in planning your willow planting – but, if you need any further information, please get in touch : –

When can I buy/plant willow ?

You can place an order for willow (short cuttings, long whips, kits) at any time throughout the year – but we only send out living willow in
the winter (generally late November to late February).  That is when it is freshly cut and it is the right time to plant the willow for it to successfully root. Any time in the period late November to early March is usually fine for planting.

We will send the willow out to suit your plans for preparing the site and recommend planting within a few weeks of taking delivery.

If you take delivery at the end of the season we recommend planting as soon as possible to be certain of successful rooting.

When will my willow arrive ?

If you place an advance order before the cutting/delivery season for living willow (which is generally late November to late February) then we will get in touch with you when we start cutting to find out when you will be ready to plant and to arrange delivery (as the carrier requires a signature).

If you place an order during the cutting/delivery season (ie from late November onwards) we will assume that you are ready to plant and we aim to send out your order within 3 working days of receiving it (we generally send out 3 times a week) and we will advise you of the despatch date (and tracking information if sent by carrier).  If you would like to place an order early in the season to ensure availability (we do generally sell out of the longer whips before the end of the season) but you would like delivery delayed, please just add the details in the notes section on the order or send us an e-mail when you order.

If you order on-line or provide your e-mail address when you order by post or phone then we will confirm delivery details by e-mail so please check your inbox for our confirmation details.

Can I collect my order ?

You are welcome to collect your order, but as we are not ‘open to the public’ as such it will need to be by appointment – we live at the Nursery so evening and weekend collections are possible.

How near to buildings can I plant willow ?
The generally accepted rule of thumb is – plant at least one and a half times the height of the willow tree/structure away from buildings/pipes etc. So, for example, with structures about 6 ft high with potential for 6 ft top growth – plant at least 18 ft away.
How do I order/pay ?

You can either order securely online in our shop or you can contact us by ‘phone or email and pay by credit/debit card.

If you are a school or organisation and would like to be invoiced, then you can either place the order by ‘phone, fax*, post or email (*faxes can be received on our telephone number) and we will send an invoice by email.  Payment can be made by cheque, credit/debit card or bank transfer.

We are not registered for VAT.

How is the willow delivered ?

Long willow whips/living willow kits are sent by carrier – TNT – and delivery should be the day after it is sent.

Please note : a signature is required on delivery. You can provide an alternative delivery address (ie your work address/a relative etc) if this is more convenient.

If you place an advance order before the cutting/delivery season for living willow whips/kits then we will get in touch with you when we start cutting to find out when you will be ready to plant and to arrange delivery.

If you place an order for living willow whips/kits during the cutting/delivery season (ie from late November onwards) we will assume you are ready to plant and we aim to send out your order within 3 working days of receiving it (we send out 3 times a week) and we will advise you of the delivery date and tracking information (and tracking information if sent by carrier).

If you would like to place an order early in the season to ensure availability (we do generally sell out of the longer whips before the end of the season) but you would like delivery to be delayed, please just add the details in the notes section on the order or send us an e-mail when you order.

If you order on-line or provide your e-mail address when you order by post or phone then we will confirm delivery details by e-mail so please check your inbox for our confirmation details.

How do I store the willow ?

Willow whips and cuttings should ideally be planted immediately (within a few days of delivery) – however, if this is not possible, please unpack them and store somewhere cool – an unheated shed/garage or even just leave outside (out of the sun) – and aim to plant within a few weeks.

Ideally – once we are in the cutting/delivery season – order only when you are ready to plant or let us know, when you order, if you would like delivery to be delayed.

Do you deliver outside UK mainland ?

Short willow cuttings can be sent throughout the UK by First Class Post at a cost of £4.00.

We can send long willow whips/kits to the Scottish Highlands and Islands, Northern Ireland/ Isle of Wight and the Channel islands, but TNT does charge a lot more for this service, so please contact us for the cost of delivery which will be in excess of the standard £19.00 charge – also next day delivery cannot be guaranteed with 2 days being more usual.

How do I prepare the site for planting ?

The area to be planted should ideally be prepared in advance (ie in the early Autumn when conditions should be more favourable) and the following are our recommendations :-

For best results, the planting site should be dug over and fertiliser/manure/organic matter added – especially if the soil has a tendency to dry out quickly. Planting through an appropriate membrane or adding a good mulch will help in weed control later on but is not essential.

As an example, the ‘Adapted’ Dome Kit will make a dome that can have an inside height up to a maximum of 6 feet 6 inches with a base diameter of up to a maximum of 7 feet – ie that is the largest it can sensibly be built whilst still being held together by reasonable overlapping of willow – approach the other domes and wigwams in the same way (dimensions are given on the Kit Prices page.

If you prefer, you can make the dome lower & wider or taller & narrower.  So, on the basis of that, decide on the rough base diameter you will be aiming for and the digging over just needs to be around the circumference of the circle – but leaving the doorway undug if you have decided which way it will face.

One way to mark out the circle is – 2 sticks tied together with a piece of string measured to the radius of the required circle : one end pushed into the ground at the centre of the site and the other stick used to scrape a mark in the ground, or use as a guide for marking with paint/sand etc.

Then, ideally, dig around this marked planting line 2 spade widths (ie a spade width either side of the marked line so you have scope to alter the planting width if you wish) and a spade deep.

For tunnels, look at the dimensions given of the item ordered and mark out the width and dig over the two parallel planting areas in the same way.

For fedges, obviously, just the one line of digging is needed.

Can I buy willow whips longer than 9 ft ?

Whilst some whips do grow longer than 9 ft, there are fewer of them.

We do have a some kits using 11 ft long whips for the main structural elements – which allow taller/wider structures to be created – but you need to telephone or email to order those so that we can ensure that demand does not outstrip supply (they are not listed to buy in the
on-line shop).

In a good growing year, if there is a more plentiful supply of longer whips, we may be able to offer 11 ft whips on their own (as opposed to only as part of a kit) – or possibly even longer whips – please get in touch to check on availabilty.

However, longer than 11 ft would only be available for collection from the Nursery (by appointment) as they cannot be sent by carrier.

What should I order to plant a windbreak/living screen to block out the neighbours/noise ?

A Fedge will create an attractive barrier, however, if you want something more dense (although it will, of course loose it’s leaves in winter and will not totally block you from sight then) planting short cuttings might be more effective in the longer term.

Ideally the short cuttings should be planted at 18 inch (45 cm) spacing and for more impact and a denser screen, if you have room, a double row would be good with 12 to 18 inches between the rows and the cuttings staggered in a zig zag pattern

‘Bowles Hybrid’ is the toughest of the willows we have available, and a double if not a triple staggered row would be best for a windbreak. Alternatively, one of the coloured stemmed varieties would give interest through the winter.

Potentially, each short cutting will grow 3 or 4 stems, some of which, in good growing conditions, should reach 6 to 9 ft in the first year depending on the variety chosen.

For a screen, the idea would then be, each winter, to cut down 1/3 to 1/2 of the stems. You will be left with a partial screen and new growth will come from the cut points keeping the windbreak dense lower down. The next winter you would then cut back the 2 year old stems . . . and so on.

How fast does willow grow ?

In good growing conditions (with reasonable soil and kept well watered), you could expect the new willow shoots from short cuttings to be around 3 or 4 ft tall by early June (reaching the height indicated in the description for the particular variety) in the autumn.

Growth on structures will be less vigorous but good leaf cover should be expected by late Spring after planting in good growing conditions.

Do I need any experience/training to 'plant/build' willow structures ?

No previous experience is needed and full planting instructions are provided – our kits are very easy !

Please visit our ‘How to . . . . ‘ pages for brief details of how living willow structures are made and also our ‘Your Willow’ page for photographs sent in by customers of the living willow structures that they have made.

How long does it take to 'plant/build' willow structures ?

Our kits are very simple and straightforward, and an individual kit would take 2 adults less than an hour to plant (assuming the site has been dug over first).  If children are helping it could take a bit longer !

How much maintenance do willow structures need ?

New growth will start in the Spring and it should be long enough in early Summer to start to weave it in and out of the structure.  If you prefer the ‘shaggy look’ you can just weave a little in or you can keep on top of it for a neater shape – even if you choose the latter option, it can be done as you are using the structure/walking past it and it would only take a few minutes a week – if that.

Then in the winter (when the leaves are off and it is easier to see) you can weave in as much growth as you wish to/need to, to keep the structure in good shape, and then cut off the rest. This might take 1/2 an hour to an hour.

You might find it helps, during the late summer, to cut off any thicker/longer new growth you haven’t woven in at the very top of a dome or tunnel that will no longer bend down easily to weave in – if left it may be caught by the autumn winds and rock the structure about.

If you are planting a Fedge, it will put on top growth and side growth. Ideally, you will weave in the side growth as it becomes long enough, so that side of the maintenance is little and often and could happen when you walk past as above.  You can leave the top growth as a screen until winter and then cut it down (back to the original fedge height), that might take half an hour at most for a 10 ft run between late November and early March.

What is in a willow structure kit ?

On our ‘Kit Prices’ page you will see a description of the size of structure that can be made and details of the number of whips sent to create that structure. Photographs of the structures are also accessible from that page and elsewhere on our site. We also provide twine for tying and full instructions.

What sort of soil does willow need ?
An ideal soil would be a good moist loamy one, but Willow will do well in most soil conditions although if the soil is light you should work in organic matter for moisture retention. Willow doesn’t need masses of water but it does need a reasonable amount if it is to root and become established.
What do I need to do before the willow arrives ?

Ideally you should dig the site over before hand to make it easier to push the willow in and so the soil is not too compacted making it difficult for the roots to get established. See ‘How do I prepare the site for planting ?’ above.

Will willow grow in shade ?

The shade itself isn’t a problem, it’s more a question of what is causing it.

If it is a large tree that takes up a lot of water and makes the proposed planting site very dry, then it might not be a suitable location for a living willow structure.

How do I tie/secure the willow together ?
Living willow structures are self supporting, however, you will need to secure/fix the willow during different stages of the ‘build’.

We provide biodegradable twine for initial securing – on the basis that pressure grafting and woven in new growth will then hold the structure securely after the first season.

You can also use willow or synthetic ties.

What are your 'dead' willow bundles of Salix Viminalis 'Bowles Hybrid' suitable for ?

They can be used for ‘rough’ weaving, say, around living structures, borders, making plant supports or general crafts etc (‘Bowles Hybrid’ is not a variety considered to be of basket weaving quality) or, if ordered in winter, as they are fresh cut, they could be used to plant and create small living willow sculptures – please let us know if you plan to plant them so that we can send you the freshest cut material.

From late November onwards we have fresh cut willow which is totally pliable, and will stay so (if kept somewhere cool) until about April.

Thereafter, it will need soaking to become pliable again – in the late spring it may only need a few days soaking, in the autumn (as it has dried out totally from the winter cut) it will need soaking for about 10 days to become workable.

Very roughly speaking, a bundle can cover about 8 to 10 square feet, depending on the type of weaving used and how tightly it is done.

There are approximately 200 whips in the bundles.

Can I plant a 'Fedge' Kit more densely to keep my hens out of my vegetable garden ?

You can certainly plant the willow in the fedge design closer than the 6 inches our kits are based on (ie 1 ft spacing for one direction and then in between for the other direction).  You’d need to work out what sort of gap the hens couldn’t get through ! There is also a question of the height that would contain them.

How long will a willow structure last ?

The original willow stems will thicken slowly over time – for example after 5 years a 2cm diameter stem may have increased to about 6cm (totally depending on the growing conditions, but that’s a rough idea).

The idea is to weave in new growth either through the growing season or in the winter so that in the spring when the new growth comes again you have the basic original shape.

We don’t recommend leaving non woven-in willow to grow for a 2nd year as the new growth will make it too heavy and it is liable to pull the structure apart when it is caught by the wind.

There is no reason why a maintained structure can’t last for many years and still look good.

Do you sell rooted willow ?

We only sell fresh cut unrooted willow in the winter (because it roots so readily then).

I would like to give a willow structure as a present do you have something I can give them before the willow is ready ?

We are happy to provide a gift card with brief details of the structure ordered that you can give.  It would be sent as an email attachment for you to print off.

We have horses/goats/geese/wild rabbits/deer - will they damage the willow?

Horses and goats are likely to eat the fresh growth of willow so should be fenced off.  Geese/rabbits and deer are all likely to nibble, but unless they totally remove the bark all the way around the stem the willow will survive.  Over the years, we have had goats, geese, rabbits and deer and have never experienced serious damage.

This is a new version of website and online shop for us and we hope that your purchase goes smoothly - but please get in touch with us if there are any problems at all. Thank you. Les & Anne Dismiss