Japanese Dappled Willow Sculpture (Salix integra)

Japanese Dappled Willow Sculpture (Salix integra)

Several weeks ago I told you of a little dappled willow pruning experiment I tried at my in-laws home.  Before I show you the results let me quickly revisit some characteristics of dappled willows and why I like these shrubs.

About Dappled Willows: Japanese dappled willows or (Salix integra ‘Nishiki’) are shrub willows that will quickly grow between 10-12 feet tall and enjoy moist soil conditions with plenty of sun. They begin each year with green dappled foliage and will eventually will sport new growth that retains a whitish-pink shade on the stem tips a little later in the spring. Dappled willows can be adapted as a hedge row, as a standard, or make neat living sculptures (as you can see in my first attempt below).

Dappled Willow Propagation: Like most willows Salix integra is very easy to propagate from cuttings either in water or just by sticking in a pot of soil. You can even take cuttings and stick them in the location you want them and they will grow into new plants. No special rooting hormones are needed since willows have good levels of auxins to promote root growth. Willows will reproduce via something called catkins. They are dioecious which means that willows have separate male and female plants.

My Favorite Features: The ease of propagation and the dappled appearance of the leaves make dappled willows a favorite shrub of mine. Because it is so easy to propagate you can use it to make a hedge row for a property border fairly quickly, which is how I’ve chosen to plant them.

The Willow Sculpture: A Willow Window

I began pruning the willow mainly to improve the walkways around it but as I pruned I noticed the oval shaped opening appearing toward the center of the plant.

From the main angle the window now highlights some of the garden art already in the garden.

The base of the willow will need to be pruned periodically to keep the window open. These suckers could be allowed to grow to 2-3 feet then cut back without compromising the window look.

Here is the same plant from another view. The foliage that has grown above the willow window will provide shade for the bench below.

Have you every tried any creative pruning like bonsai or topiaries?


Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. This is very, very cool, Dave. I'm actually planning to put in a row of Nishikis this spring, in part to help take up some of the excess moisture we have around here. They are one of my favourite shrubs, and they grow nicely up here on my hill. I'm not into doing sculpture, though. My yard does well to get its shrubs pruned, let alone have any artistic advances made on it.

  2. It is coming along splendidly, Dave! Might I suggest a couple of more branches be allowed to grow from the bottom and be wound around the main ones, taking off the leaves as they grow? How fun. And yes, we are constantly torturing trees and shrubs with the pruners. 🙂

  3. It looks really cool! A real work of art!

  4. Hi Dave
    April 10 and April 17 I have living willow workshops here. I have a posting on my blog about it.
    I have been using 'Nishiki' and other willow varieties for my creations.

  5. Very creative Dave. I really like it & it provides shade also.

  6. Very artistic, Dave…it looks wonderful with the bench in the foreground. I like Frances' idea of intertwining a few other slender branches. I've always wanted to try bonsai; I was given a book once which featured bonsai maples and birches, etc. Tiny little hardwoods that set my heart aflutter…they even turn colour and lose their leaves in the fall. 🙂 But I haven't investigated any further. Yet.

  7. Interesting experiment. It looks good framing the sculptures.

    More people should try this type of stuff, it makes the garden unique.

  8. It's really nice. Very elegant and very creative. It's like leading a green lifestyle and the rationale for adopting an organic and lean approach to living.

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