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Midwest Regional Reports

Wonderful Willows for the Midwest | Regional Report

Decorative cloche made from willow branches. Photo: Erin Presley

When you’re looking out on the March landscape, it can be hard to feel inspired. After months of ice and snow, even the grasses and seed heads we normally count on for winter interest are flattened into the dingy snow piles. Enter wonderful willows (Salix spp. and cvs., Zones 4-9), colorful and structural in the late winter and early spring. Sporting vibrant red, orange, and yellow stems that arch for the sky or curl wildly, willows are dynamic both in leaf and in dormancy. Adaptable, water-loving willows are well suited to handle the intense weather events we’ve been experiencing more frequently in the Midwest. In 2018, one August storm drenched parts of southern Wisconsin with more than 11 inches of rain in 24 hours, breaking records, and wet weather through the fall left standing water in low areas for months, even as winter approached and the ground froze. Willows love…

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