Salix purpurea ‘Bleu’
(aka S. purpurea 'Purple Dicks')
purpurea = purple
This French selection of the Violet Willow gets its name from the blue color of the leaves (the spelling 'Bleu' is not a typo, it's French). It is one of the most attractive willows we grow. Grows up to 12ft long and has delicious slender rods are really great and are produced in abundance. A real winner! Purpurea varieties are best when coppiced yearly to encourage lots of young stems. The 6-10ft long slender rods are very useful for basket makers and graceful living structures. Coppicing results in remarkably colored foliage of red and green. Stems turn from red to a more purple shade and the leaves darken. The showy female catkins appear early in the year before the leaves open.
Basket makers Europe and Canada offer this as a hybrid between purpurea and daphnoides, but there are no characteristics that would indicate that. Unfortunately some basketmakers play fast and loose with plant names confusing an already difficult task of keeping track of the plethora of Salix cultivar names; this is what happened with the name 'Purple Dicks'! I managed to locate the culprit on this one! I checked with the French National School of Agriculture and Basketry to find out more about this selection, but got no response! Hardy to Zone 4.
USES: great for ornamental uses in the garden, winter displays and cut stem arrangements; superb for making baskets and living structures.
Typical dark female catkins of purpurea; sometimes appear singly like these,
or as opposite pairs like those below that have been pollinated.
Stems and foliage of 'Bleu' shown in different seasons.
Long straight rods, so flexible that you can do practically anything with them!
Vigorous and just look at the number of rods plant each produces!
This is one of the coolest willows we grow! Just look at the color of those stems and leaves.
Rivals any foliage perennial in a mixed border!
At left is a Harlequin Tree I made with 'Bleu'. All the lower shoots have been trimmed to show off the basket weaving.
Mature foliage that is dark bluish-green and blue-gray underside of the leaves;
stems are reddish-purple, slender and great for basketmaking.
of Michael Dodge