As Fall approaches, I am beginning to work on the willow at the front of my side garden. Two years ago, I cut these willow shrubs to just above ground level. Anne wanted them to form a hedge or barrier for privacy, so I did not cut them down to ground level again this spring. Instead, I let them grow. Lately, I have begun to harvest from this two-year growth. As you can see, I cut the willow down to waist level from its 8 -12 foot height. the willow on the left is as yet uncut and shows its two-year height.
Here are the remains of the cut willow that proved to be unusable for my basket-making. Most of these branches were too short or had too many branches off the main stem to be useful. I need long and straight "whips" for my basket ribs. I bundled up these waste products and put them at the curb for the green box compost recycling.
For the usable willow whips, I stripped each of its leaves. The green bin was a helpful collection container for these.
The end product after an hour or more of work: "brown" willow. These are now in my storage room where they will dry over the next weeks and months and lose their green colour. I will soak them in water before I can use them in my rib baskets.
The term "brown" willow refers to any willow, whatever its colour, that is harvested and used with its bark still on. "White" willow is willow harvested in the spring, stripped of its bark to reveal its white flesh beneath. "Buff" willow is willow boiled for 8 - 10 hours with its bark on. Its bark is then removed to reveal a beautiful buff colour .