Willowspring evolution

When we first arrived at this property we had no idea what we would call it. The feature now called Willowspring was a big mass of green leaves at the bottom of the driveway, a huge old willow tree surrounded by weeds, fences, the driveway, a tall tree, a horse-shelter outbuilding, and a large pile of horse manure.

Here is how it looked on May 18 during a visit with our realtor, long before we moved in:

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The view above was taken from mid-meadow, looking northwest. Willowspring is the low, rounded mass of green at center right, just behind the horse turnout and the white shed.

Behind the shed, at the southern edge of the willow, at the base of the tall dark green tree was the manure pile. Here is how it looked on June 29, still three months before we moved in:

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The red wall on the right is the west side of the white shed seen in the previous photo. Branches and leaves of the willow reach over the wooden barrier in the back. Knowing the value of good poop, we asked the previous owners to save it for us and not cart it away. By the time we moved in on October 2, the pile had grown enormously:

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The shed at the right has been removed by the former owners. At the far right, one of Willowspring’s lowest branches broke off and died during the shed removal, turning its leaves white.

The driveway side of Willowspring is quite different. It’s as if the driveway sliced it right in half. Here are two views of the driveway side taken on October 13, before we had done anything significant to the willow:

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Not a lot happened to this area for some weeks after we arrived. The weather cooled and autumn came in. The willow yellowed and started dropping its leaves. By October 25 it looked like this on a misty morning:

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The willow and the riparian forest behind it have both developed a yellow tint. At the right, eight small pines infected with bark beetles show red branches that have died. At the base of the tall dark green tree on the left, the small gray rectangles are the wooden barriers holding the pile of horse manure. The lower meadow in the foreground is still enclosed in fences, but the fences enclosing the horse turnout have been removed.

Early November brought more cool weather and Willowspring dropped the rest of its leaves. I found Stella exploring the dense branches one day:

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Since we chose the name Willowspring for the property there has been a lot more attention to this area. Fences, trash, and weedy old plants have been cleared all around the margins. Some branches have been carefully removed for better artistic effect. Flat cut ends of some other branches have been attacked by clippers to leave behind a more natural, broken look. There are still a few fence posts and other items to remove, but Willowspring is now starting to show her true potential as a centerpiece for the landscape.

We look forward to watching as the willow tree comes through the winter and begins to awaken again in the spring.

A few more views as of December 1, 2015. The knee-high stump belonged to one of the pine trees infected with bark beetles. It will be cut down to the ground soon:

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