Posted on March 7, 2017
Write-Up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com
The month of March is known for whipping winds, weather that roars in with the last hurrah of winter and gently exits with the nearing of spring, dependent upon how the calendar falls – the holy days of Lent and Easter, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, a lovely aquamarine birthstone (mine) and college basketball tournament play dubbed “March Madness.”
It is also a time of ‘willow madness’ for the enigmatic pussy willow. As http://www.gardeningknowhow.com puts it, pussy willows offer early buds in late winter “when much of the landscape still sleeps in dormancy.” Quite appropriately, ‘willow madness’ seems to be everywhere as Catkin branches can currently be found at virtually every New England garden, floral and specialty retail shop.
Delightful, yet mysterious looking Catkin branches – long, dark and adorned by fluffy, oval-shaped buds in shades of ivory or pale pinkish, are one of the great joys of this juncture of seasonal change. Among nature’s most beautiful works of art, in my home I have set a vase of pussy willows in front of another enigmatic piece of art, an original palette knife painting done by my brother, FWB II.
Native to the Eastern United States and Canada, pussy willows are found in the cold temperature regions of the Northern Hemisphere, primarily in moist soils, according to online sources. Part of the genus Salix, there are 400 species of trees and shrubs. Pussy willow trees are said to take root quickly and are one of the easiest to grow and maintain. A cautionary word however, they have deep spreading roots so should not be planted near water, septic or sewer lines.
Another mystery of pussy willow branches is that left unwatered on display indoors, they hold the promise of lasting almost indefinitely.