Along the main path in the Azalea Walks before the Play
The winter stems of white willow (Salix alba var.
Vitellina - yellow stems) and Siberian Dogwood (Cornus alba
'Sibirica' - red stems) deliver fantastic colour throughout the
winter months and contrast well to make a magnificent display.
Younger stems have the best colour so these plants are cut back
hard every year in March to April to cause the plant to grow new
colourful stems for the following winter. The willows are
grown as a pollard - stems are cut back to the trunk at head height
and the dogwoods are coppiced - all the stems are cut back to
Both pruning techniques - pollarding & coppicing have been
practiced for thousands of years to produce wood for a variety of
purposes from fuel to ship building (carried out on cycles of 5-50
years depending on the tree and use) without having to replant
trees. Newly planted Willows and Dogwoods should be left unpruned
for the first 2-3 years until they are fully established.
The pruned stems of both plants can be cut into 30cm sections
and used as hardwood cuttings. Just remember which was the bottom
of the stem as they won't work if inserted upside down!
Insert the sections into pots of multi-purpose compost or straight
into well drained soil in a sheltered part of a border. Two
thirds of the stem should be pushed below ground level. The
cuttings will have rooted by the following spring and can be moved
to their permeant positions.
Cornus alba (Siberian dogwood) was first introduced
into Britain in 1741 from Siberia. The variety 'Sibirica' was
introduced by Westonbirt Arboretum in the 1830's. Salix
alba var. Vitellina is a European native. The common name
White Willow comes from the colour of the undersides of its leaves.
Both are relatively unfussy of soil type except very dry and happy
in a sunny or partially shaded position.