Willows are beautiful and easy plants for many different farming and gardening purposes. They are the best plants for stabilising eroded stream banks, can bring life to industrial wastelands and quickly provide shelter for wildlife and screening from busy roads. Many willows have attractive leaves, twigs and buds and are used in wild landscape gardens. We use living willow (fresh live willow rods) to create hides, shelters, mazes and other structures for parks, gardens and nature reserves.
There are willows for every type of landscape, from the natural to the artificial. Native willows blend perfectly into the coppices alongside railway lines or riverbanks, while smaller growing shrubs can be used as features in garden borders, providing vibrant bark colour. Low growing willows, such as Salix helvetica, S.retusa and S. repens can be grown on rock gardens.
Willows are thirsty plants and thrive wherever there is plenty of water – beside streams and riverbanks, the edges of bogs and ponds, and in areas with a high water table. However willows are extremely versatile and can be found in most environments except deserts. The best growth is achieved in deep, rich soil with full sun and adequate moisture. Willows are hardy shrubs that can tolerate salt spray and wind but grow poorly in shaded conditions.