Finally the snow has melted enough that I was able to walk down through the yard to cut pussy willows and wild blueberry branches. Until today the drifts were thigh level and way over my boot tops. One of my favorite ways to celebrate the end of winter and the imminent arrival of spring is to cut branches and put them in a vase above my kitchen sink. Today, at last, the view from the kitchen is of black and grey pussy willow branches and blueberry stems.
I’m a sucker for the genus Salix. There is something about most willows that I find appealing, and I’m growing several varieties on Poison Ivy Acres. Starting in mid to late February the black pussy willows (Salix gracilistyla melanostachys) begin to open, followed in early March by a wild variety that I suspect might be the invasive S. atrocinerea. We have a large plant and a couple small shrubs of wild willow that I haven’t taken the time to identify positively but a quick look at the leaves initially made me suspect that these are either the rusty willow or S. discolor. Let’s hope they’re the latter.
In March the wild highbush blueberry bushes (Vaccinium corymbosum) have stems that are a brown-red that becomes even more brilliant on the ends of the newest growth. I usually cut three or four branches from one of the many bushes that dot our property so that I can enjoy their bark and watch them come into flower along with the willows.
Any early-spring flowering shrub can be cut and the branches brought indoors now, and don’t be afraid that you’re cutting them “at the wrong time.” You’ll enjoy the flowers from forsythia and deciduous azaleas as much indoors as you will when they bloom outside, and maybe more, so why wait? Prune these plants now and celebrate the season!