Last weekend Rosmarie and I manned an HNH booth at the Native Plant Sale at Acadia University. Jodi DeLong was there as well and we picked up a shipment of her book Plants for Atlantic Gardens: Handsome and Hardworking Shrubs, Trees, and Perennials for the HNH shop.
Having taken HNH’s sustainable landscape design class this spring, I am loving this book; it’s like having a local gardening expert on-hand when you sit down to pick out your plants. I am easily overwhelmed by the variety available at nurseries (so much so that I can spend hours looking and then buy nothing at all), so I am especially appreciating the “Recommended species and cultivars” sidebar that appears in most of the plant entries. I think you’ll also find Jodi’s writing style engaging. Each plant entry is infused with cultural history and Jodi’s long-time experience as a gardener and journalist, so you may find yourself indulging in a good long read when you only meant to dip into a single plant entry.
Many visitors to the sale were intrigued by our cuttings of yellow twig willow. I learned a lot myself about how to use this versatile plant. When I tried to look up the tree later, I couldn’t find the name anywhere. It turns out that “yellow twig” is the name that the Dreschers (at Windhorse Farm) call the willow they’ve been using on their farm for decades; the parent plants for our whips originally came from Windhorse. Quick growing, the cuttings can be used to create visual barriers, deer fences (deer don’t like to jump over their masses of twigs), or living play structures. They can also be used to control erosion on the bank of a river or brook or soak up a wet area of your yard. A cutting can be left unpruned to grow a tree up to 80 feet high, or pruned agressively to create a large twiggy shrub. The stems turn red in the winter, so they are breathtaking in snow. If you are wondering whether they sucker and spread like crazy, Rosmarie confirms that they do not. After the sale, the remaining cuttings were potted by the staff, so if you are interested in trying out some “yellow twig” willow, stop by the HNH store.
For those who bought cuttings and would like a reminder on how to plant them, use a bar to open up a hole about a foot deep, fill the hole with water, pop in your cutting and close over the top of the hole with soil.