A variegated willow for the sunny border by Bobbie Schwartz from Fine Gardening issue 96 I am always astonished by the color impact and pizzazz my Japanese variegated willow (Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’, USDA Hardiness Zones 5–8) provides in my foundation border. This cultivar has foliage that looks white from a distance, but a closer examination reveals that the new leaves are mottled in shades of white, pink, and green, maturing to mostly green and cream. To maintain the whiteand- pink variegation, I prune in early spring or late fall. I also cut mine back in July to keep it small. The loose habit of Japanese variegated willow provides a welcome textural contrast to stiff conifers and broadleaf evergreens. The pink-hued stems and branches are slightly upright initially but tend to take a fountain shape as they lengthen. In winter, the stems turn a striking red. To get the best color, the stems should be cut back in early spring. Japanese variegated willow performs best in a sunny location with average soil. And it has no pest or disease problems to speak of. In my cool-colored garden, this shrub is sited perfectly among purple-flowering ‘African Queen’ butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii ‘African Queen’, Zones 6–9), apricot ‘Taki No Yosooi’ peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Taki No Yosooi’, Zones 3–8), and a grouping of annual flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris). All of these plants have large or divided foliage that contrasts nicely with the willow’s 2-inch-long, lance-shaped leaves. Try it in your garden—it is sure to draw attention. Related Articles Shrubs for Slopes The Only Shrubs You Need to Grow Creeping Sedums 28 Antique Roses for Specimens, Hedges, Containers, and Climbers View the discussion thread.