Christchurch Mail - - GARDENING -

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: get­grow­ 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.

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