You are certainly familiar with its branches that are covered with velvety catkins in spring… With its tight-bound shape, the ‘Kilmarnock’ willow is perfect for small gardens and balconies.
The weeping variety of the goat willow species, bred in England in the XIXth century, Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’ (previously called ‘Pendula’) is a tree that shaped like a short parasol that is particularly ornamental. At the end of winter, its naked branches bear silver white pompoms that open up in spring to reveal golden stamen bouquets. In fall, its long leaves turn to beautiful copper hues.
Thanks to its tight-bound shape and its compact size (its trunk can’t grow any higher than 10 feet (3 meters) tall), this little willow is the perfect choice to add a touch of originality in smaller gardens and in beds, too.
‘Kilmarnock’, easy growing
Less vulnerable to diseases than its tall weeping willow cousins, ‘Kilmarnock’ tolerates any type of soil as long as it is very moist. It will be perfectly happy near a body of water, although not having any nearby isn’t a problem.
Set it up preferably in spring, in the sun and sheltered from strong wind. Remember to stake it for the first two years, because its roots don’t run very deep. Pair it with tall grasses to play on textures, and with early bulbs to highlight its spring catkins.
In garden boxes, plant it in a mix of clay soil and soil mix (one part each). Remember to water it regularly.
Caring for ‘Kilmarnock’ willow
It is quite easy. Simply pruning its branches every spring to trigger growth (catkins appear on the previous year’s growth): cut them back to 2 inches (5 cm) from their original branch, and apply pruning paste. In fall and in spring, you may apply a preventive spraying of Bordeaux mixture.
If you’re growing it in garden boxes, add tomato or strawberry plant fertilizer from April to September.
Laure Hamann (Image credits : Jardiland, La Plante du Mois)