Don’t Weep For Our Willow

When storm Ciara battered Ruddington in early February, for many villagers one of the most upsetting bits of damage it caused was to the large old Willow tree on The Green.

Despite a lack of leaves at the time, one of its main branches was unable to withstand the gale force winds and came crashing to the ground. Subsequently, Ruddington Parish Council discovered the ageing Willow had become quite badly diseased, and took the difficult decision to remove the much loved tree altogether.

Thankfully, before that happened, quick thinking Ruddington resident Austin Shaw (pictured top with his wife Ann) leapt into action! “A few neighbours I know were equally sad and brought samples of the old tree home, simply as a collectible pieces of the many happy memories of their past days on The Green” explains Austin. “I’ve known for some time that the Willow will grow if simply stuck in the ground. What I didn’t know is that this particular species clones itself. The penny dropped! I couldn’t wait to rush to the downed tree to take a cutting.”

In fact, the Shaws ended up with over a dozen cuttings placed in water – and were delighted when they started to form roots and so could be potted up! As they’re both in their seventies, Austin and Ann are now self-isolating due to the Coronavirus pandemic – and so are gratefully using the delivery services of the Ruddington COVID-19 UK Mutual Aid Group.

Austin Shaw with the Willow tree cuttings he’s now propagating  {PHOTO by Ann Shaw}

Mr Shaw sent them an email which read: “My wife and I are two of the individuals who have thankfully found benefit from your group, as we are both at the ages when it is necessary to self-isolate. I wanted as a means of thanks to offer you the opportunity to take one, or a few, cuttings off the old Willow. We will definitely not be around when the tree/trees become mature but, as long as Ruddington has a tree of this species once again, so one day it could be planted on The Green. The idea I do believe has the potential to bring hope for the future of the village when hopefully in years to come this awful time we are now dealing with has passed us by.”

The 13 saplings will soon all need BIGGER plant pots (around 5 litre ones) so, after an appeal on, we’re delighted to report that Perkins Hardware has come to the rescue – with Simon and Helen saying they will do the pots with some John Innes compost when it’s back in stock.

Meantime our Parish Council, which is responsible for the upkeep of The Green, has responded positively about planting one of these cloned trees as a direct replacement for the felled Willow. However the area of land where it stood (pictured below) needs to be left for six months before any replanting takes place.

Rushcliffe Borough Councillor, Jennifer Walker, one of the volunteers behind the Ruddington support group, says: “My head started buzzing with ideas after receiving the email from Ann and Austin to our Mutual Aid Group about the Willow saplings. It is a truly inspiring, green-fingered, initiative and I can’t wait to see it planted on our Green – making the loss of our beloved village Willow Tree in storm Ciara easier to take.”

Cllr Walker adds: “We hope to time the planting with the loosening of the lockdown rules when we can all gather to meet on The Green – a wonderful symbol of rebirth and renewal after so much darkness. Many thanks to Austin and Ann for their efforts and community spirit and it is yet another example of the wonderful, thoughtful people we have living in this village.”

Cllr Mike Gaunt

Fellow Ruddington Borough Councillor, and new Parish Councillor, Mike Gaunt says: “This is such a wonderful story of hope and renewal. The idea that, as a village, we can all meet once this is over and plant a sapling that has been grown from the special tree that we lost as a community is a lovely symbol of hope. The thought that one day, in many years to come, young children can play under its branches and families can picnic in its shade is something that we can all leave as our legacy to the Ruddington of the future.”

The Shaws plan to give away some of the other saplings to family and friends – including one to Austin’s brother Ian to be planted on the Malvern Beacons. So Ruddington’s famous old Willow tree is set to have descendants far and wide!

You can find Ruddington COVID-19 UK Mutual Aid Group on Facebook >>HERE<<.

{The top photo of the broken Willow tree is courtesy of Vasily Chuikov}

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