Blue Streak catkins
Mention willows and many people first think “pussy willows”. Usually people think of the large catkins that are produced in the spring on Salix caprea, S. cinerea, or S. chaenomeloides, but many of the willows produce attractive catkins. Willows are dioecious, which means that male and female flowers are born on different plants. In addition, depending on the species, catkins are produced before leaves (precocious), at the same time (coetaneous), or after the leaves have formed (serotinous). So it goes without saying that there will be a lot of variation in how different cultivars flower and their ornamental quality.
Sometimes you get a package deal like these catkins on this Japanese variety that has ‘fasciated’ stems. Other times the catkins are small and almost inconspicuous like the ones below.
For some gardeners, the catkins are the whole reason for having the willows. The catkins are just an extra benefit for us. There is nothing like a cool, sunny day in February or March with the catkins popping on the willows. A little later and a little warmer, the anthers will start to open and bees will emerge to visit the flowers. That’s when I realize I better get working and get the willows cut before they leaf out! Right now I still have the time to admire the black catkins of melanostachys against the blue sky.
Salix gracilistyla var. melanostachys
oval panier a jour
Check out the Crafts Report Insight April 2009: Baskets. Katherine was one of 13 artisans chosen to share business insights with fellow craftspeople. The editor asked basketmakers to contribute a couple of images and a 100 word essay for this online feature. Believe me; it is difficult to write a concise but interesting tip about marketing your work. I usually end up in the role of editor in Katherine’s marketing efforts. I’m also her photographer which may put her at a disadvantage! I’m always open to constructive criticism on the photos.
willow bike baskets
Katherine made these bike baskets for this classic Sears bike back in November. These were made for our friend Eddie Gordon who wanted the orange stripe to match an orange stripe decal on the bike. These were the second pair of square pannier style bike baskets that Katherine has made. She had made a pair previously for her own bike. The baskets are fairly large at about 14 inches long by 10 inches wide at the top border by 12 inches deep. They taper to a base at 11 inches by 7 inches. The inside dimensions are 13″ x 9″ tapering to 10″ x 6″. (The square shape is essential for a six pack!) They have a heavy wire woven in to the basket near the top. There are loops formed from the wire that hang over the rear rack. The baskets can be easily removed by just lifting them up.
outside view of wire loops
inside view of wire hanger
You can see examples of front handle baskets that Katherine weaves and sells in this post.
Katherine's bike baskets
Le coeur a fromage
Happy Valentine’s Day to all! I had to post this photo of a “coeur a fromage” that Katherine made from our red willow and some buff willow. This basket is a traditional French form – a cheese tray in a heart shape. The basket is about 13 inches wide by 12 inches long. You could call it a cheesy valentine if it wasn’t such an exquistite basket.