Sunday, April 29, 2007

Willows and Riparian Plantings

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Just after 6 AM and I already feel like I'm "behind" for the day. Arthritis has a way of slowing down even good gardeners and after helping plant 375 gallon pots yesterday, I can feel some unused muscles getting back into shape. My right hand has finger joints I can count by the degree of pain but after I get going here they'll loosen up and I'll be ready for another day of planting. I hope!

46 degrees here on the hill and probably colder down on the new property. I keep forgetting to buy a max-min thermometer to put down there so I can begin tracking the way the rise and fall of the Winooski River affects the temperature. There are good and bad points to having the river border part of the property. Its inherent beauty over weighs other points but the almost daily increase in water flow by about three feet is something I don't care for. Green Mountain Power owns a power plant on the Lower Cabot Road in Marshfield. Water from the watershed that includes Peacham Pond and the Marshfield Reservoir flow down along Route 2, up to the water tower and then down the hill through the pent stock to the power plant. Many afternoons after 2:30 the pent stock is opened and water rises rapidly. When that happens, more and more river bank is carried to Lake Champlain a little at a time. As you travel Route 2 and look towards the river, you notice oxbow after river oxbow washing out and it becomes clear how serious this is. The Friends of the Winooski River is sponsoring a guest speaker from Green Mountain Power May 9th and I'll be asking some questions about this problem. Here's the lecture info:

Hydropower on the Winooski River on May 9th at the Cabot Town Hall at 6:30 PM. Jon Soter, Manager of Power Production for Green Mountain Power will be the focus of the presentation on GMP's operations on the Winooski River. Jon will cover the company's overall operations and capacity. The presentation will also cover the historical development of hydropower as well as GMP's focus on other renewables such as windpower.

Regarding bank erosion I am going to do a little preventive work myself. When Gail went to the flower show in Essex earlier this year I asked her to buy me a couple bundles of pussy willows. There's always a booth that sells a large variety of different willows for spring home decoration. Few seem to know that if you stick them in water they'll root in short order and compound your investment if you have a place that needs planting. Gail came home with a bundle of yellow and a bundle of black willows which I gave a fresh cut to and placed in water. Willonw have an inherent chemical that makes them root easily. In fact many folks take willows and cut them in small pieces and throw them in a bucket of water with other harder-to-root items. The chemicals dissolve in the water and enhance rooting.

I took these pictures two weeks ago and at that time gave the whips another fresh cut and changed the water. The roots are twice this big now and are getting ready to put outside to harden off a little before planting. The yellow willows have thinner leaves than the native varities common to wet areas around Vermont. The black willows have interesting catkins.

The black willow bundle Gail purchased was a little more dehydrated than the yellow and have been slower to get started but this would not ordinarily be the case. Some catkins went into full bloom as soon as they hit the water. The raven feather I've included in the picture is only intended to show size as its 12" long. In another week or so I'll plant these along the river bank about 5 feet from the high water line. Just another way to keep Marshfield soil in Marshfield.

Have to get going here!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where a fine rain falls and loons call from the reservoir but receive no replies from their friends on Peacham. Can loons hear when they are underwater having breakfast?

George Africa