Thursday, March 13, 2008

Salix gracilistyla var. melanostachys

A beautiful day -- time to clear away some of the winter debris and make the garden and flower beds ready for planting and new growth. And a time to greet old friends returning -- especially the ones that usually go unnoticed.

My black pussy willow (Salix gracilistyla var. melanostachys) is a rather nondescript shrub for most of the year but I knew I had to have it when I saw one in spring, its deep red stems covered, it seemed, with fuzzy black caterpillars. At first the little catkins wear a tiny brown dunce cap which quickly falls off, revealing a startling scarlet tip on the black. Then, over a week or two, the pussies grow and bloom with the most delicate pink and green.

But you have to get up close to see them -- and after raking and pruning and raking some more, I'm happy to stop and appreciate the pussy willow.

I'm not alone in my appreciation. You'll find more pictures at
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