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Willow trees are not just trees - they are a cultural asset. In the past, pollard willows were of great economic importance, as they supplied the willow branches from which baskets of all shapes and sizes were woven. In addition, willow branches were used in many regions for the construction of half-timbered houses: the fields of the framework were internally provided with a wickerwork and then filled with clay. The loam was thrown on both sides of the wicker wall, similar to today's shotcrete, and then the surfaces were smoothed.
The ecological value of pollard willow is also very high: in the tree caves of old pollard willow live for example little owls and bats, on bark, leaves and shoots are about 400 different insect species at home.
Previously willow branches, today plastic
The development of modern plastics has meant that pollard willows have disappeared from our landscape in many places. On the initiative of various nature conservation associations new pollarded willows have been planted along streams and rivers in recent years - often as compensation or replacement measures for construction projects - but they only develop their greatest ecological value after a few decades, when tree hollows are formed by fouling Bats and owls are used. Pollard willows can live for about 90 to 120 years.
Plant pollard willow in the garden
In the near-natural garden, pollard willows are a picturesque sight - and as house trees they are also very reasonably priced. All you need to plant a perennial willow in your garden is a strong branch of a white willow (Salix alba) or wicker (Salix viminalis), about two meters in length. The latter remains - without cut - with eight to ten meters in height slightly smaller and is particularly well suited for wickerwork, because the shoots are very long and flexible.
Even uncultivated willow branches, which grow for several years, usually grow easily if they are planted in the soil in early spring. The top should be spread with tree wax and regularly remove the shoots on the trunk
In the late winter, dig the lower end of the willow branch about 30 to 40 centimeters deep into humus rich, evenly moist garden soil and seal the interface at the top with tree wax. It is best to set three to four willow branches, as a certain failure is to be expected especially in warm, dry spring weather. As a rule, however, the branches form roots without further action and drift out in the course of spring. Tear off all sprouts regularly to the crown approach, so that a straight, unbranched trunk forms. The crown shoots let you grow first. They will be shortened to short stubs every three years starting next winter.
A regular cut in late winter is important so that the head graze remains compact and does not break apart
Cutting pollard willow
Their typical spherical shape receives pollard willow through the annual pruning. You can put the scissors on the old treetop and cut everything except for branch stubs. So you get straight, unbranched rods that are good for braiding. Classic representatives are silver (Salix alba) and basket willows (S. viminalis). The purple willow (S. purpurea) with its reddish-brown bark color is a good addition to the weaving work.
After the strong pruning, the pollard willow forms numerous new shoots in spring
For braiding the grown in summer rods are harvested and sorted by length. Thereafter, the relatively flexible branches must first be dried so that they retain their flexibility permanently. Particularly elaborate is the peeling of the willow branches. Sometimes it is made by machine or chemical. Before the actual lichen, for which there are regionally different techniques and patterns, the willow branches are extensively watered. In this way, they are supple and easy to work with.