PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Dwarf Alpine Willow ‘Yezoalpina’ (Salix nakamurana)

We are fascinated by and celebrate all Willows for their grace, their usefulness, and their role in local ecologies. This one is native from the far northern island of Japan, Hokkaido, through the Kuril islands to the Kamchatka Peninsula but it grows beautifully here in the Pacific Northwest.

Dwarf Alpine Willow grows naturally scrambling over scree and boulder fields at higher elevations and will tolerate plenty of cold, snow, and droughty conditions. Here in the lowlands around Puget Sound, it is happy on a sunny or partly sunny slope where water drains easily or along the edge of a decorative dry creek bed, or at the top of a stone wall where it can work its way through and across the rocks.

In early to mid spring it is the cutest thing you will find in your garden with light green leaves covered in a thick layer of silky fine silvery hairs. At the same time, classically cute silver gray catkins (like the buds on pussywillows) perch vertically along all the branches. In autumn the foliage turns golden yellow, then drops, leaving a very interesting interlaced web of stout gnarled branches hugging the ground or nearby rocks.

It will grow no more than 12-18 inches tall and spread to about 10 feet. Totally care free, but will induce many exclamations including OOOOh! and Awwww, So CUTE!. There you go, you’ve been warned.