Friday, March 12, 2010

Salix discolor

Pussy Willow Catkins by Frank L. Hoffman

I began seeing pussy willows (Salix discolor) in supermarkets and flower shops about three weeks ago. But as we approach the Vernal Equinox on March 20 1:32 pm EDT, these harbingers of early spring will be making their annual debut in nature any time now. In Massachusetts, the catkins begin to appear in March.

Male pussy willows produce ornamentally attractive gray catkins on leafless stems in late winter to early spring; females produce smaller, less attractive, greenish catkins. If you want to grow pussy willows in your garden, plant them in average, medium to wet and well-drained soil in full sun. They will really thrive in moist soil and will do well along streams and ponds. Once established, they can be shaped into a hedge.

According to lore, the sound of the wind through the willow was said to inspire poets ― they considered willows to be sacred.

For me, they still are.

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