Saturday, March 26, 2011

Salix gracilistyla ' Melanostachys' or Black pussywillow is another nice shrub for late winter and early spring that does well in Sitka. The stems, especially the upper (younger) portions, have a warm orange red color that makes a nice backdrop for the black catkins. The stamens are orange-red as well, so the catkins in bloom are rather striking.
The two shrubs in the garden started as cuts stems purchased at the Seattle Garden Show about 14 years ago. I carried them home in a suitcase, plunked them in water and like most, but not all members of the willow family, roots started forming pretty quickly. One plant started out in what turned out to be too tight a spot and I had to move it when it was about 4 ft tall and 5ft wide. This turned out to be unfortunate, as the pre-move shrub produced many catkins and had a pretty nice form. It hasn't quite recovered from the move yet, this willow is not as forgiving as the rhododendrons which seem to be really tolerant of moving around the garden.