A beautiful, sunny day was the day to begin the enjoyable task of stripping the willow. At this time of year, the willow I grow is showing its first flush of leaves. This is the time when it is very easy to strip the bark from the willow whips. I cut the willow down and then select long pieces without branching. I then remove the leaves. The bark is easily removed just with my finger nails and pulling the bark as shown above. The bark is underlain by a clear sap. While the exposed flesh is tinted a light green, it dries to a beautiful white. Hence it is called "white willow."
To my right is the result of a full mornings work. This should be enough willow for the ribs of six or so rib baskets. I am working on the last whip in the photograph. At my feet is the accumulated stripped bark. There is more willow to cut down so I will be able to double this quantity some sunny day next week.