Wilg en Es / Willow and Ash Harvest

Join us this Saturday to collect willow for the garden bed edging              (wear waterproof boots!)

Tom has been working with the regional landscape management charity Stichting Landschapsbeheer Gelderland on pollarding local trees. Pollarding  is a method used to crop living trees for materials, such as firewood, tool handles (e.g. ash) or thin branches for weaving (e.g. willow). We don’t have space to demonstrate this technique in the TTPermatuin but it is a great example of permaculture practice, creating yields with sustainable systems which contribute to the ecosystem; and using environmentally friendly and local products. One of the local landowners has donated the cuttings from the last willow-cutting workday to the TTPermatuin for which we are very grateful, and all will be used well to edge our beds and bring a little visual order to the wonderful abundant planting that we have started to build up.

knotwilg/ pollarded willow

The once popular, ancient tradition of  pollarding illustrates a  harmony and efficiency using the nature of the trees and avoiding the work of replanting. Wetland species are used mostly, with willow being the most popular because it grows at very fast rates; they can be pollarded (cut off at the top of the trunk) or coppiced (cut back at the base). This technique makes conventionally poor land (wet areas or around drainage ditches) productive, enriching the environments of suburbia or monoculture farms. Trees like willow can help manage wet fields or even be grown in plantations for biomass (firewood or gas production). Willow supports more types of insect than any other tree in Europe, making it very important for the ecosystem. It also provides valuable early nectar for bees, and  extra fodder for livestock in time of drought (as do Limes).

Coppice Willow

Here’s a film in Dutch showing how to plant and maintain a pollarded willow tree (Salix spp.) – key points for the non-Dutch: you need to scrape the bottom of the pole to be planted to stimulate root growth – other species need to be grown from a rooted sapling; regular watering is needed until the tree is established; other slower-growing species suitable for pollarding are ash (Fraxinus excelsior), lime (Tilia spp.), black/common alder (Alnus glutinosa), English Oak (Quercus robur). (Source: Landscchapsbeheer You-Tube Channel)


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