The pussy willows always remind me of the spring and more importantly Mother’s Day. As a young boy, I would walk around the gardens at Mottisfont Abbey Gardens, looking for flowers for a homemade Mother’s Day bouquet for my mum. Of course, with Mother’s Day in late March, it ended up being a bunch of daffs and a few bits of pussy willow thrown in, how my mum would of loved to have this one in amongst it.
Salic chaenomeloides ‘Mt Aso’ is also know as the pink giant Japanese pussy willow and is of course a native of Japan. It hasn’t been around in Europe for that long but has been used in Japan for a few years. It was originally bred and used in the cut flower industry and you can see why it is well loved by florists, with its large pink fluffy flower buds. It is named after the most active volcano set in Japan, there are 5 active volcanoes in the group and they last erupted in 2016. The group are around 400,000 years old.
It can make a small tree, up to 15ft in height but if you are growing it just for the catkins, then you are best to cut it down to the ground every year or at least every other year. This will help to produce more better quality catkins on long stems again ideal for floristry. It is pretty happily in most soils from sandy to heavy clay soils (this is where I have seen the plant growing nicely). If pruned hard back, it’s well worth feeding it with Vitax Q4 and mulching with well rotted manure, this will help to produce some great new growth.Best to do this hard prune and feed just after flowering in late March.
As it is still pretty rare growing in U.K. Gardens, it can be hard to spot, the ever reliable Sir Harold Hillier Gardens do have a beautiful group of three growing near the pond and if you want to buy one, Pan Global Plants do have it listed.