As a little girl, I would love to play under the great sweeping giant willow trees at the local botanical gardens. I would pretend the drooping branches that swept the ground were sheltered walls to a secret hideaway and the large twisted branches were stairs to another world. I’m a bit old now for having a fantasy garden, and a giant willow takes many, many years to get to its full potential, but I knew that our yard should be home to one. Hubby and I packed Junior into his car seat mid August and drove into the city to a popular nursery, eager to pick out a willow. We searched the aisles and green houses but found nary a one. We were very disappointed to find that apparently inside city limits, willows can’t be sold. I knew that they had a very invasive root system, but I assumed it would only be a “planter-beware” warning when buying. We left empty handed and sulked back to the country to our small nursery that couldn’t possibly have anything larger than decorative twisted willows in pots. I should slap myself on the back of the hand for judging the little nursery from sight alone. I had passed by it several times before and as a tiny building I hadn’t thought twice at stopping in. Now, a very humbled family strolled the acres of trees, a lumbering old lab dog following us for free pats. Ducks, geese, chickens and cats roamed freely and rows upon rows of very low priced trees could be found. I loaded an 8 foot tall willow onto my cart and thought nothing more of how we would get it home and proudly dragged my find to the cashier.
Between Hubby and I, we were able to stick the large pot in the back seat and the willow stuck out the back window of our SUV. I drove slowly home, hazards on, waving to neighbours as we drove the few kilometers. As mentioned before, willows have a huge root system and are well known for crushing septic pipes and wreaking havoc on foundations, so I was well aware the willow would need to be shunned to a far corner of the lot (all the better to view it from the house). We decided on a spot close to where the future garden would be, and the far back fence gate would eventually be sheltered under the great willow branches. Compared to older generations, my willow looks very sad and pathetic, a single tall trunk and a spattering of branches, but its potential was there. I’ll be too old to be able to play on it’s twisted trunk, and maybe not even Junior, but perhaps I might have grand kids that will visit and I can watch them playing under the magical shelter of the willow branches.