William Carlos Williams – Willow Poem

It is a willow when summer is over,
a willow by the river
from which no leaf has fallen nor
bitten by the sun
turned orange or crimson.

The leaves cling and grow paler,
swing and grow paler
over the swirling waters of the river
as if loth to let go,
they are so cool, so drunk with
the swirl of the wind and of the river—
oblivious to winter,
the last to let go and fall
into the water and on the ground.

Source: http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/williams/1050


Willows belong to the willow family (Salicaceae). Some species differ a lot from others, and some resemble each other so much that individual identification can be difficult.

Each willow has its own characteristics that define what kind of usage it is suitable for. In addition, the colours of the willows differ, which makes it possible to play with the colours. The time of harvest and drying method also affect characteristics and usage.



Willow is a versatile natural material. It can be used as fresh or dried, and after drying it can be  dissolved, debarked or used with bark. Traditionally, willows have been used to make willow whistles. It can be also used to weave utility articles and different kinds of ornaments. Weaved baskets are also traditional willow works. Willow can be weaved into containers of different shapes and sizes. Willow can also be used to weave flower rests, trays, willow balls, birds and utility articles and ornaments: only your imagination and handiness set the limits. Examples of smaller willow items are soap pads, key chains, pens and necklaces.

Fresh willow can also be used in willow works. Fresh willows can be used to build larger constructions such as garden fences, gates, huts and decorations.

Willow leaves can be used against fever and rheumatism. Willow bark contains salicin, which transforms into salicylic acids inside the human body and functions  as a painkiller. Willow bark can also be used to tan, dye fabrics, and weave rope. Since the willow grows very fast, it binds up a lot of nutrients from the surrounding environment. Willow works as a filter of nutrients between fields and water systems. Fast-growing willow can be also be used as material for energy production.

Willow has also been used to prevent erosion in sensitive areas like watersides by binding the willows together in big bunches.

Willow can be harvested in the autumn as soon as the leaves have fallen. Harvest can be continued until the end of January. In the autumn and the beginning of winter, the willow is the most obstinate. The willow used for weaving must be branchless and as straight as possible. The pith should be thin.

The willow branches can be sorted into bunches by length, thickness or colour. They are then dried in a standing position in an unheated outdoor garage. Dehydration takes about half a year. For weaving, willows have to be soaked in water for 3 to 8 days. If the water used for soaking is warm, the bark will come off easier.

Peeled willows needs  to be collected in the spring time when leaves don´t have stems, the bark will then come off easily. The bark can for instance be used for making rope. The peeled willow can be dried outside for a couple hours.  It should then be made into bundles without storing it inside.

When working with living willow, cuttings should be planted soon after the frost has thawed. The willow should be irrigated abundantly every week.


Willow grows both naturally and in plant schools. Farmed willow is often straighter, longer and of a more uniform quality than its wild relatives. The willow is easy to propagate from cuttings.

To harvest a naturally grown willow you’ll need permission from the landowner. Wild  willow can be found next to the roads and ditches and near railroads and wastelands.



Willow farms in Finland:


http://www.marjamaenpajutila.fi/ Marjamäki willowfarm

http://www.sunniemenpajutila.fi/ Sunniemi willowfarm

http://www.pajua.fi/pajutila.htm Nygård willowfarm

http://www.koiramaenpajutalli.fi/ Koiramäki willowbarn

Links (in finnish):

http://www.kuvajamieli.fi/olj_kotipuu507.htmarticle about willow weaving by Tarja Heikkilä


http://www.yhteishyva.fi/yhteishyva/vapaaaika/harrastukset/puno_pajusta_kukkatuki/fi_FI/puno_pajusta_ kukkatuki/Instructions how to make flower rest

http://www.4h.fi/@Bin/26792/Pajun_vaantaja.pdf Instructions for willow fence and weaving

http://www.luontoyrittaja.net/220.html Information about willow and weaving

http://www.yle.fi/kodinkaantopiiri/paju.htm Instructions for willow pillars

http://www.koiramaenpajutalli.fi/kukkakartio.html Instructions for flower rest and other information about willow

Source: Lumoverkosto.fi