Willows


Some of the park's willows are ancient.

Others are new, and appear delicate, but it's a strong species. This weeping willow on Melville Drive leans at a crazy angle and its long chains flutter in the wind, yet it survives the winter storms.


Leafless in winter, it's barely visible to the camera.


(By April, though, it's glowing)


I'm wondering if this leaning is a willow characteristic: this elderly one on Melville Drive also curves alarmingly out from its base and yet has never been shifted by floods or storms.


Having its mighty branches lopped off doesn't seem to have done this next old beast on North Meadow Walk a lot of harm, either.


There's a new willow on Middle Meadow Walk, caught here in an early autumn mist (it's growing near the birches depicted at dawn in a previous post). This one is accompanied by huge thistles growing out of an old stump.


Willow tree leaves are like no other's in the park (except for the Raywood Ash, whose leaves also have this elegant pointed sweep).


The beautiful curls in a small tree opposite Summerhall belong to a Golden Weeping Willow (Salix  x sepulcralis Chrysocoma). 


Willows typically have long, pointed leaves (one exception is the popular pussy willow: there aren't any of these in the park).  Most familiar for many will be the icy green of White Willow (Salix alba), giving the trees a silvery shimmer along their drooping branches. 


In spring, some willows can be recognised by the yellow trunk and twigs, and the corncob appearance of the early catkins.


These catkins soon take on a more familiar appearance


By late spring, the cascade is lovely.


Looks like willows are attractive to ladybirds, too: I saw two 2-spots, a red and a black, on the old pruned willow on North Meadow Walk willow in early June. These are native to the UK. 

Although the black has four spots, confusingly it is nonetheless likely to be a melanic form of the two-spot because two of its red spots are right on the edge of the wing cases.


The black was in hot pursuit of the red, and it was soon clear why.


They didn't stand in one place for this: the red was tearing up and down the twigs as the black clung on. This seems to be normal behaviour.


Birds also like the established willows. Robins, being loners, aren't as easy to spot as some of the other park birds, but this one I noticed at long distance, again in the old pruned willow, in October 2015.


Below is the croquet park White Willow in high winter winds. We don't have any Cricket Bat Willow trees yet, but there's lots of weekend cricket and clubs.


A map of where to see some of the park's willows is here