GATHER PUSSIES FROM WILLOWS
The various willows that produce ‘‘pussies’’ at this time of year are doing just that. While the downy catkins are still sound and haven’t ‘‘blown’’, clip off segments of branch tips and bring them inside to display in a vase. The trick to keeping them whole for months on end, is to leave the vase dry – that is, don’t add water, the way you would for cut flowers. Without water, the soft catkins will stay that way. They won’t develop any further and shed their bits all over the tablecloth.
Those you’ve left on the trees will open and display their This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get growing, from New Zealand Gardener magazine. For gardening advice delivered to your inbox every Friday, sign up for Get Growing at: getgrowing.co.nz reproductive bits to the delight of honey bees who are especially hungry at winter’s end.
Willows provide a reliable and considerable supply of pollen and have attracted the attention of beekeepers around the country. They are encouraging farmers to plant as many willow varieties as possible on their farms, alongside their waterways, where the bees can collect pollen almost every month of the year. If you’d like to grow willows, for bees, cut some willow wands from a tree that’s been given the okay from the bee people and your regional council, and poke those slips into the soil.