Pollards – Knotbomen

The willows we have on Droef we call ‘Knot Wilg’ this means that the top of the willows have been chopped off after two years of planting. And regularly pruned. Trees under this management are called Knotbomen in Dutch (pollard in English). This way the tree will not develop into a full grown tree but will create a lot if thin shoots on top. This has historically been done in order to harvest these shoots to make willow baskets, clogs and many more products. This is a long lasting tradition and the tree in this form is even part of the dutch heritage. Nowadays people like the look of it and it really fits in the traditional dutch landscape. Also it is a way of keeping a tree that would normally become very big to a decent size, like we do with many hedges.

 

A living fence and a branch wall made with willow twigs at 45

Thanks to this management, we can provide plenty of branches for all Droevendaal inhabitants for many creative purposes: firewood and for building, making live fences, branch walls, baskets, feeding goats, etc. As the pollards grow old, they develop cavities which are an ideal refuge and nesting place for all sorts of animals like owls, bats, woodpeckers, hedgehogs and small birds. Even epiphytic flora can start growing on them.

Plenty of firewood and branches for baskets harvested from Willow Pollards 20-2-2019

Since the tree is now formed in this way we have to maintain it. If we don’t the shoots will become very big and to heavy. The tree is not able to carry that weight and might fall down and the branches might break of. So yes, this tree is a product of human interference, but of course a lot of our nature in the Netherlands is. This also means that we need to take care of it.