Garden School:


Garden School:
Teaching this week: Planning a project, and how to do Quantity Surveying, in order to establish the quantities required.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Vine Weevils - evil little beasties!

 I've written in the past about Vine Weevils  and, following on from that post, I had an email from Susan ("Hi, Susan!") asking some follow-up questions.

Susan explains that she has a small shady front yard, filled with Astilbes which have not been performing well, despite being in conditions which they are supposed to like.

She wondered if they were in need of lifting and splitting - sometimes you do find that oldish clumps of perennials flower less and less enthusiastically, but they can be rejuvenated by the classic "lift, split, replant the newer bits from the outside of the clump, discard the inner, tired old bits" routine.

But,  horror of horrors, when Susan did this, she found that the roots were infested with Vine Weevil, which explains why the Astilbe were suffering. It's hard to flourish, when the weevil grubs are eating away all your delicate (and very necessary) roots.

 Now at this point, I would say that if you have no idea what Susan and I are talking about, go back up to that first line, follow the link, read all about Vine Weevils, then come back and carry on.

 So, is everyone with me? We all know what they are now, how they reproduce, and what to do if you find them? Great, on with the show!

 This left Susan with a pile of questions, starting with  the obvious one, can she save the Astilbes? I would say, hopefully yes: if they were mine, I would do the total removing of the soil - as per the article - and cleaning of the roots, then I would pot them up, with clean bought-in compost, and put them somewhere a long way away from the "infected" area, and preferably on a raised bench or plant stands. 

 This will give them time to recover, and also will give you a chance to check whether you got rid of all the weevil grubs and eggs.

Susan's next question was about suitable replacements, if the Astilbes were gone for ever: and the answer is, well,  anything similar which you plant there, will probably suffer a similar fate, so you might as well stick to the Astilbes.

Although having said that, some plants are more susceptible than others, so if you have plants which appear to be quite undamaged - Susan mentions ferns, and Day Lily (which I assume is Hemerocallis) which are fine - then it might be worth getting more of those, instead.

"Will the adults walk across the driveway and attack my neighbour's yard?" asked Susan. Yes. They will. They can't fly, thank the lord, but they are strong walkers, and very good climbers. There is every possibility that they walked over to her garden from that of her neighbour in the first place!

 A very sensible question is "Will the grubs starve if I don't replant until next year?" and the answer is yes: if you lift out every plant in the area, dig over the soil very thoroughly, then leave it bare, which allows time for the birds and small mammals to eat up any grubs that you miss, then yes, they should all die off. Without roots to eat, the grubs will die. But it's a bit sad to have to leave a whole area bare, for several months, and there is still the possibility that the adults will be lurking elsewhere in the garden, and will sneak back as soon as you replant.

So what does that leave? Chemical warfare, and biological warfare, as per the other article, and then ceaseless vigilance!

Susan, I hope this helps!


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Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Silver Birch suffering from death at the top

 Here's an interesting question which arrived in my inbox the other day: David sent me a picture of a recently planted Silver Birch sapling in his garden, which appears to be dying at the top, but is ok at the bottom.

Here's the picture:

David told me that the garden is near to the beach, so the soil is very sandy: and he commented that he has been watering the tree regularly, as instructed by the supplier.

I'm glad that David explained about the watering, because newly planted trees need special care for the first couple of years, while they are getting their roots down, and many newly planted saplings die because their owners only water them for the first few weeks, rather than for the first couple of years.

 So that would normally be the first thing I would say - was it watered properly. In this case, yes.

So, watering is not the problem, then!

Mind you, if the soil is very sandy, then any water which falls, be it rain or the owner watering it, will run straight though the soil and will drain away: and Birch trees don't have enormous tap-roots, they have a wide spread of very shallow-growing roots.

So if I were planting a tree in sandy soil, I'd do my best to incorporate a lot of what is called "organic matter" in the ground, before I planted it. Organic matter can be home-made compost, or bought-in well rotted farmyard manure - anything other than "multi-purpose compost" because the sort of compost you buy in bags from the garden centre is feather-light and fluffy, and does not hold moisture the way that proper "organic matter" does.

In fact, tell you a story (if you don't know by now how easily I digress from the official subject, then you haven't read much of this blog, have you!) I once worked in a garden where the lady owner had been very ill in hospital, and well-meaning friends decided to give her garden a makeover to welcome her back. Her soil was horrible rock-hard clay, so they bought in a lorry-load of multi-purpose compost, spread it all over the borders, about a foot deep (yes, on top of the solid clay), and popped in a load of new plants.

Every single one of them fell over! The compost had no "heart" or "body" to it: walking on the beds was like walking on a mattress, all springy and fluffy, and  anything growing more than about two foot high would flop over at the least bit of wind. I had to start at one end and go all the way round, lifting out all the plants, digging in the compost, then replanting.

And the moral of this tale, is to avoid spreading bought-in compost on the beds as a mulch: use it for pots and for seedlings.

Getting back to the subject of enriching sandy soil: I should point out that when doing this, it is important to dig a planting hole that is much bigger than the root-ball of the new sapling.

Why?

Because if you only chip out a pot-sized hole in your own, less-than-perfect soil, and fill it with lovely organic matter, then the roots won't have any incentive to get out there and grow, they'll hang around in the nice rich soil. This is bad.

Plus, you are creating a "sump", an area of soft rich soil, which will then fill up with water and might make the roots of the sapling rot.

So it's best to dig a good big, wide hole, bung in the organic matter, mix it up well with the original soil, firm it down well, then dig a smaller hole in which to plant the sapling. This gives it a good start: nice soil around the roots, and more of it to either side, to encourage it to spread out.

It's also always a good idea to have a big clear area around each tree that you plant: grass is greedy stuff, and if you don't keep the area around the trunk clear, then the roots of the tree are competing with the grass, plus there is always the risk of damaging the trunk when mowing.

So, if we assume that David's tree had an enriched planting hole, what's gone wrong?

I think the answer lies in the height of the damage, the height of the fence, and the comment that they live near the beach: I think it's likely to be a combination of wind damage, and possibly salt damage.

The wind comes whistling in across the sea, and then hits all the coastal houses: and you can see that the lower part, shielded by the fence, is looking quite healthy. 

Normally, I would say that wind damage alone would be a likely candidate, but in this case, the wind might indeed be salty, which would coat and scorch the upper, new, leaves, causing them to die.

Is there an answer?

Well, firstly I would suggest to David that he doesn't immediately chop off the top, the apparently dead bit: excessive wind can cause a tree to drop nearly all of its leaves: but they usually grow back again. This has been an exceedingly hot, windy, summer.  In my own garden, one of my decorative Japanese Acers did this, last month: every single leaf on it shrivelled up and died. I was quite upset - I've had it for 15 years or so, and it's Osakazuki, one of my favourite cultivars. But cheers and hoorays, it has now sprouted a whole new batch of leaves! Yay!

So I would say to David, give it a few weeks and see if it sprouts any new leaves.

But if it doesn't, then is all lost? David is understandably not keen to chop off all the apparently dead bits, as that would basically mean losing the whole top part of the tree. However, if it's dead, it's dead, and there's no point leaving it hanging around, as dead wood looks ugly, attracts the sort of insects which like dead wood (and which often then travel into the live wood and scoff that as well), and is prone to breaking off, which can then damage the lower portions of the tree.

My advice would be to firstly give it a bit more time, and a bit more water: but if there are no buds to be seen on the upper limbs - you might need to go up a stepladder to look closely - then he might have to admit defeat, and prune off the dead material.

Personally, before doing that, I would contact the supplier: if you kept the receipt, they should replace it, if you take it back, complete with roots. I'd phone or email them first and check, before  you dig it up, but most tree suppliers/garden centres want their customers to be happy, and are usually pleased to replace something which has died. You may think it's embarrassing, to stand in the shop admitting that you've killed a plant, but that's not the case - the shop is delighted to prove to all the other customers in the store, that they do offer a guarantee, and that they honour it. On the few occasions I've done this, I've received excellent service, no questions asked at all. Once it was an 8' tall Redwood which cost £45, I was very apprehensive about taking it back, but they not only replaced it, but did so with an even bigger one, with a much higher price tag on it, as they didn't have any small ones in stock.

If David doesn't want to, or can't, return it, then all is still not lost: even if he has to cut off the top part of the tree, it will - with luck - grow back. I have a small Silver Birch in own garden, whose top half was snapped off by excessive winds one winter. It was ruined! Ruined! I sawed off the broken top bit, as high as I could reach (it was quite a bit bigger than David's one) and for a year, it looked ridiculous: but then the next branch down took over as the "leader", and now you honestly would not know that it had been damaged.

As this tree is such a young one, there is every chance that it will do this: a new leader will appear, and it will continue to grow. 

Finally, the usual word of caution: if a tree or other plant has died, there might be a good reason for it, and if you don't fix that reason, then any other tree or plant in the same place, is likely to suffer the same fate.

So if the tree was damaged by the wind, then any new growth is likely to also be damaged by the wind, in which case you would need to change the plant - go for something which can tolerate high winds - or change the situation by, for example, attaching trellis to the top of the fence, to create a baffle for the wind: or planting a wind-break of tougher trees.

 Hope this helps!

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Thursday, 20 August 2020

Old Apple tree: disaster recovery

Here is the story of a poor old "James Grieve" apple tree, which is well past its best:

 

It has had an adventurous life: the garden in which it grows was split in half, about twenty years ago, when the owner built themself a new house in what must have been a lovely large garden. They chose to slap the new fence right up against the existing apple tree, so half the roots are in one garden, half in the other. Not necessarily a bad thing - after all, if you plant a tree right next to an existing fence, you'd get pretty much the same effect.

Then it started to lean over, and it's gradually gone further and further until now, it looks almost as though it was meant to be a cordon. 

For the past couple of years, it has produced less and less fruit, and the bark is split very badly:

Here's one of the splits, low down on the trunk: as you can see, not a pretty sight!


Then, above the grease band - right - there is this enormous split as well.

Hideous!

Don't worry about the blackness above - that's the remains of previous years' grease gunk, which we paint on to prevent codling moths and other pests from ruining the crop. 

And yes, we use both black grease, AND a grease band - I've been trying to save this tree for a couple of years, and we've tried everything to protect it, which includes watering, feeding, and copious amounts of physical protection.

But the crop has been decreasing, as I mentioned: and this year in particular, the leaves were looking paler and paler, despite regular feeding.

The good news is that there is a strong young sprout at the very base of the tree:


... so I suggested to the Client that we try to save it, by cutting off all the damaged and non-productive wood, keeping just this little bit.

We will tie it in to the fence as an espalier-type form, and if it doesn't grow, well, we will then buy a whole new tree. But the owners are very fond of this old man, and were keen to keep it, if at all possible.

I warned them that drastic pruning might send the tree into shock, and it might well die: but we all agreed that it was worth a try, as it was pretty much dead anyway.

So, first job, remove the upper limbs of the tree.


This is simple to do, if rather brutal: with pruning saw for the bigger bits, and ratchet loppers for the lesser bits, there it was, reduced to a skeleton in no time.

The reason for doing it this way is to get rid of the bulk of the tree before tackling the trunk: partly so that you don't get bashed, poked in the eye, and prodded by branches while trying to saw through the trunk, and partly to reduce the weight, otherwise there is a real risk that the trunk will fall before you have sawn completely through it, which might result in damage to the stump. 

And which might result in damage to surrounding plants, not to mention the gardener! So for these reasons, I always reduce the top of the tree before tackling the main trunk.

Second job, chop off the bulk of the main trunk: again, to get rid of the weight of it.

This was very simple to do, I just took the pruning saw and started sawing!

Now we move to the delicate bit: can we cut off the majority of the damaged trunk, without hurting the new sprout?

This one is particularly awkward, as it is right slap bang up against the fence, as you can see.

Traditionally, when cutting any branch larger than about 2" across, or when felling a main trunk, we do an undercut first: this is exactly what it sounds like, a small cut on the underside of the branch, or on the "wrong" side of the trunk. The purpose of the undercut is to cleanly break through the bark, so that if the limb starts to fall before you have completed the cutting, it won't rip a huge strip of bark off the trunk on the way down.

It also directs the stump or branch to fall in a chosen direction, rather than falling at random.


In this case, it was a really difficult place to get to: I needed to cut as far below the damaged bark as I could, but I needed to end the cut above the new sprout, obviously. Plus, the fence was in the way!

So I started my undercut, choosing an angle which would hopefully end up just above the sprout. 

Usually, the undercut is very small, less than a quarter of the diameter of the branch or trunk, but in this case I kept on sawing until I couldn't go any further from underneath.

Now, normally, if you try to do this - cut from underneath -  the weight of the branch will make the cut close up, thus trapping your blade. The technical term for this is pinching, and it's a maddening phenomenon, because you don't know in advance how far you can undercut before the blade gets pinched, and there is always the temptation to cut just a bit further... the deeper you go on the undercut, the less you have to cut on the top, so you can see why it's tempting to keep going, 

I did once lose a bowsaw blade when trying to cut down a largeish tree: I went a bit too far, the tree leaned over and pinched the blade so solidly that I couldn't get it out. True story! I had to unclip the blade and leave it there, stuck in the tree, until the following week when I returned with a new blade in the bowsaw, made a new undercut (smaller, this time!) and then cut the tree down from the other side. 

I was then able to pick up the released pinched blade. This taught me a valuable lesson about reducing the weight of a tree before you attempt to chop it down - and the importance of carrying a spare bowsaw blade!

But in this case I was able to undercut a long way upwards, because I could support the short length of trunk in one hand, taking the weight off the cut, so it wouldn't pinch.

It took a while, but having gone as far as I could from underneath - ie until the pruning saw blade was hitting the fence and I couldn't get any further round - I went to the top of the trunk, and carefully sawed down to match my lower cut.

This was slow work, with the fence in the way, but I got there.

Now, as you can see, the two cuts don't quite line up, so once the main trunk was out of the way, I could lay the pruning saw on the cut, and gently trim off that ledge.

Here we go, that's better.  A nice clean cut, without any ragged edges, and without a strange step in it.


Having done the job, we now have to finish off: and that means disposing of the corpse.

Here's the pile of material which I removed before cutting the trunk: now I have to spend some time reducing it down into manageable pieces.

If this garden had a bonfire pile, I'd toss the lot on there! 

But as it doesn't, and for the benefit of all of you who don't have the luxury of a bonfire, all you have to do is snip off all the smaller bits, and pop them in your green waste wheelie bin.

You will be amazed how a gigantic pile of waste can be reduced, in very little time, to a much more manageable volume, if you just cut it up into little pieces. Most garden tree waste is like this - it's bulky, but not heavy. Usually.  And all those angles make a big pile, but it's a matrix of holes, so if you can snip off the sticky-out bits, the matrix collapses and instead of a skip-full of waste, you end up with just this:

Here's what I was left with: five tub-fulls of small leafy pieces which went into the wheelie bin: and a pile of lesser branches, which I cut up into short lengths with my Big Orange loppers, plus the main trunk pieces.

These can be dried for firewood, they can be stacked in an out-of-the-way corner of the garden, to become a wildlife habitat, or they can be cut into smaller pieces and put into the green waste bin gradually.

 

Having cleared up all the mess, my final job was to give the remainder a good watering and a good feed.

As I said at the start, it might well die anyway, from the shock of such drastic pruning, but for the sake of half an hour's work, well worth trying!


Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Peach Leaf Curl - how to cure it

Urgh, Peach leaf curl, a horrible ugly disease which Peaches are prone to: it's a fungal disease, it manifests in spring, and it causes the leaves on new, young shoots to produce ugly red blisters, then to curl up and look all warty and disgusting.

It doesn't kill the tree directly - the diseased leaves will die and fall off, and the tree will produce new ones, but this is a tremendous strain on the plant, and eventually it will be worn down, and will die.

If you don't know what this disease is, then lucky you! If you can't remember the exact details, check out the RHS page about it (why should I do all the work? Go and look it up for yourself!) , or just google it, and you will quickly find out that there are no sprays which cure it, which can be devastating news.

However, most of the articles on the subject will tell you that the disease appears in spring, and is spread by dampness: "Wet conditions are needed for the spring infections to occur" is the phrase. So if you can keep your new shoots dry through this period, your tree will recover. Best of all, if you can break the cycle of infection and re-infection, then you might be able to completely "cure" your tree.

I tried this last year: one of my occasional Clients showed me a very poorly Peach tree, which was originally fan-trained against a wall, but which was now mostly dead, totally unproductive, and whose few remaining branches were being trashed by leaf curl every year.

Typically, I forgot to take "before" photos... sorry! 

Anyway, the first job was to remove all the dead wood, with loppers and pruning saw. This might well leave you with an unbalanced, lopsided, peculiar-looking tree, but there is no point leaving dead wood on a tree, as it is a home to infection of all sorts, and because it looks really ugly.

So, out with the dead stuff.

Next job, snip off every single leaf with the slightest sign of leaf curl disease. That left it pretty bare, I can tell you.

Next, rake up all debris below the tree - every single scrap of dead leaf must be removed and burned, and definitely not put on the compost. This is to prevent re-infection.

I also took the opportunity to remove all weeds at the base of the tree, to add some pelleted chicken manure and a bucket of organic matter, just to give the poor thing a bit of a helping hand. Being at the base of a wall, it was very poor soil, so a bit of improvement is a good thing: and as it is also in rain shadow,  I gave it a good watering as well.

Once all that was done, I described very carefully, with arm gestures, what was needed: a translucent plastic "roof" on a wooden frame, bolted to the wall above the tree, wide enough to cover all the tree, not very deep, just enough to keep the rain off the foliage. 

Now, I know this might sound contradictory: I'm complaining about it being in rain shadow, and now I'm telling the owner to put a lid over it? Yes, and the full explanation is that either the lid gets to be removed in May each year, and replaced in November: or you leave it in place, and have to water the tree through the middle of summer. In this case, there's a handy water butt right around the corner, so it was decided by the owner, that they would leave the shelter in place.

I was back there recently (which is why I'm writing about it now), and was thrilled to see that their handyman had built exactly what I described:

What could be nicer? I love it when I describe something, and someone else understands exactly what I meant!

So here it is, a stout wooden frame, bolted to the wall, with corrugated plastic to keep the rain off and to allow the light through.

Perfick.

You can see here, how abbreviated the poor tree is now, but at least it has a good covering of leaves on what remains of the branches!

Best of all, those leaves are absolutely perfect, not a sign of blistering or curling on them, so the Client is delighted - and there were even, apparently, three fruits on the tree this year!

The wooden frame allows us to hang plastic sheeting down at the front as well, if we need to: so far, the tree is untouched by leaf curl but if it recurs, we can extend the protection by hanging some clear plastic down from the front, leaving the sides open for pollination. I'm hoping this won't be necessary, as it is a bit of a faff, and visually quite unpleasant, whereas this frame is not so bad.

And if it were mine, as a finishing touch (apart from staining the wood dark brown to match the cladding above it, but that's because I like things to be "nice") I would have attached narrow guttering to the front edge, leading down to a water butt to one side: I am absolutely evangelical on the subject of water harvesting, and I hate wasting rainwater!

 So there you have it, how to protect your wall-trained Peach trees against peach leaf curl, without the use of noxious chemicals (not that there are any which help, though).

Monday, 17 August 2020

A perfect Yellow Rose

 As a change from the usual "How To Do Something" article, I thought I'd share this picture with you.

I'm not great at taking what I call "Beauty shots" of the garden, mostly they just come out as being a mass of greenery, in fact I wrote an article about this subject last year, having done some research into ways of taking better garden pictures, very quickly.

So, how am I doing? Am I getting better? What do you think? *laughs*


Sunday, 16 August 2020

Another Salix Kilmarnock is making a break for freedom!

A short while ago, Helen ("Hi, Helen!") commented on an earlier post about a pair of Salix Kilmarnock miniatures, which were missing their catkins, saying that on hers, the branches have gone a little wild and are trailing several feet along the ground. 

She asked if it is ok to lop a lot of that growth off now - in high summer - as she's concerned about accidentally killing something which is otherwise thriving.

Helen then sent me a picture of her tree:  

What a dear little thing! 

Helen is not alone, we've seen this before, where these dwarf versions have turned into muppet-like crawling creatures, attempting to take over the bed and possibly the entire garden.

I can't do better, really, than to point Helen, and anyone else with the same problem, to my earlier article about How To Recapture a Runaway, where I describe in detail how to tackle the pruning of this sort of creature, and suggest a couple of ways of improving it.

In a nutshell, yes, you can trim off those lower branches to stop them trailing across the ground. 

There are ways to do it which will leave a more natural-looking tree - see the above articles for details - because if you just take the scissors to it, you'll end up with a "pudding bowl" haircut, which always looks ridiculous.

So there you go, Helen - yes, you can trim off those trailing branches, and yes, you can do it at this time of year.

Hope that helps!

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Tree stakes - sometime you do what you gotta do....

Last year, I planted a small Laburnum tree in a large border.  The neighbour had just cut down a massive Sycamore, leaving a huge hole in the skyline, and my Client asked me to plant something that would grow upwards to restore their privacy, but which wouldn't be as dense as the Sycamore, and preferably would be a bit prettier.

That's why I went for Laburnum: they are small trees, quite airy, and of course in spring they have a fantastic display of yellow flowers.

Last week, I was checking on the tree and found that the stake had broken.

Oh no!

What to do?

I searched the shed, but couldn't find anything suitable... but I did find an ancient potato fork, all cracked and broken, rusty and clearly not in use any more.






































Two lengths of string later - Perfect!

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Salix 'Kilmarnock' yet again - The Case of the Missing Catkins!

I had a question in from Amol the other day ("Hi, Amol!"),  asking about two ornamental Kilmarnock willows which were bought together, earlier this year: one of them is growing much faster than the other, and they are not producing catkins.

Here's a picture of the pair of them:


Right, first comments: I love the stout planter-boxes! Excellently chunky.

Second comment: good staking! Short stakes, good angle, rubber ties. I can't see how well the ties have been fitted, but let's assume they are done properly.

To answer the two questions:

Firstly,  I see what you mean about them not looking similar any more. One is definitely doing better than the other  But that's ok, there's no problem, they are both definitely Kilmarnock, because they are both weeping. If one was something different, or had reverted, it would be growing upwards, instead of growing downwards.

They are both growing downwards beautifully.

So I wouldn't worry too much about that: it looks as though one of them is forging ahead, while the other is lagging behind, and this could be for many reasons: it's possible that they were not from the same "batch", so one is older than the other and therefore more mature.

They could have been supplied to the sales outlet by two different nurseries, and could therefore have been in different growing conditions before they were sold. 

It's also possible that one gets more light/water than the other,  even though they are in the same garden.

And even though they appear to be planted in identical planters, which were presumably built and filled at the same time, the soil/compost within the two boxes might not be the same (bought-in compost/topsoil/organic matter is very variable, even from one bag to the next, regarding the amount of nutrients it contains), and the ground underneath the planters might be different - one might drain more readily than the other.

To remedy this, Amol could give the poorer one a light dose of general-purpose plant food, such as Growmore, or Fish, blood and bone, or a small handful of slow-release fertiliser. Scatter it on the top of the soil, not too close to the trunk, and gently "scratch" it in to the surface of the soil.

Secondly, catkins, or lack of.

There are several aspects of this: first and most obvious is watering. Willows love water, they need it, it makes them grow lush.  So check the irrigation, or check your watering regime: go out there now, and take a small hand tool such as a trowel, go to one of the corners of one of the planters (so as not to damage the roots), push the trowel in vertically, then lean it over sideways, and look at the cross section of soil which this reveals. Does the loose soil immediately fall into the hole? It's very dry, water it more. Can you see a dark line of damp soil  just half an inch or so down from the surface? You are not watering enough, give them more. Is the soil uniformly dark and damp all the way down? Well done, you are watering perfectly.

On the subject of watering, if you're not quite sure about it, I've published a set of four articles on the subject, this is the first one, and it contains links to the other three. Read and learn.

Next is sun: willows need a fair amount of sunshine in order to flower, and the catkins are the flowers. These ones look as though they have plenty of space around them, they don't appear to be overshadowed, so they are probably not suffering lack of light.

And then there is physical damage: birds sometimes get a strange urge to pick the buds off the trees, early in the year. Allegedly, this behaviour is provoked by lack of food, but having observed the little birdies in my own garden, my personal opinion is that sometimes they just do it for mischief. Anyway, there is a possibility that birds - bullfinches and sparrows are the usual culprits - might have damaged the buds as they were forming.

It is just about possible that if "one" had pruned "one's" willows at the wrong time, ie very late last year, then "one" might have accidentally eliminated this year's crop of catkins:  but that's certainly not the case here.

That leaves us with the final and most likely answer: it's mid summer now, and the catkins appear very early in the year. They won't have catkins now, not until next spring. It is even possible that back in March, they had finished their show of catkins for the year, so the answer to that question is to be patient, Amol, and wait for next spring.

Before I go, I would just say that the "better" one of the two could do with a light prune: I wouldn't let the branches sweep down onto the soil, for many reasons, all of which have been covered in the several earlier posts about this plant. Just type the word 'Kilmarnock' into the search box - top left of the screen - to read more about pruning them.

And for that matter, the other one could also do with a bit of tidying, it's quite cluttered at the top: in fact, both of them are a bit dense and if there were mine, I would thin them out, just a bit, at the top. Again, check this article, and this one,  for pruning a Kilmarnock willow.

Oh, and don't forget to check on them at least a couple of times a year, to make sure that the tree ties are still fitting correctly - adjust them if they are too tight, too loose, or are slipping out of place.

There, hope that helps!
If your willow branches remain bare until the tree leafs out, you’ll be wondering how to get catkins on pussy willow. The first thing to check is irrigation. Willows love water and grow well near rivers and streams. Those planted elsewhere need plenty of irrigation to thrive. If you have been letting your willows deal with drought on their own, or have simply forgotten to irrigate during a dry spell, the trees may be water stressed. If there are no catkins on pussy willow trees, be sure the trees are getting enough water. Is your pussy willow not flowering because it isn’t getting enough sunshine? It might be. Willows need sun and may not flower if they are in deep shade. Birds love to eat the catkins before they open, especially bullfinches. If it has been a hard winter for birds, it is possible they munched all the pussy willow catkins during the winter. It’s also possible that, by pruning at the wrong time, you eliminated this year’s pussy willow crop. Prune your willow just after the catkins begin to fade.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Pussy Willow Catkins: How To Get Catkins On Pussy Willows https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/pussy-willow/get-catkins-on-pussy-willows.htm
If your willow branches remain bare until the tree leafs out, you’ll be wondering how to get catkins on pussy willow. The first thing to check is irrigation. Willows love water and grow well near rivers and streams. Those planted elsewhere need plenty of irrigation to thrive. If you have been letting your willows deal with drought on their own, or have simply forgotten to irrigate during a dry spell, the trees may be water stressed. If there are no catkins on pussy willow trees, be sure the trees are getting enough water. Is your pussy willow not flowering because it isn’t getting enough sunshine? It might be. Willows need sun and may not flower if they are in deep shade. Birds love to eat the catkins before they open, especially bullfinches. If it has been a hard winter for birds, it is possible they munched all the pussy willow catkins during the winter. It’s also possible that, by pruning at the wrong time, you eliminated this year’s pussy willow crop. Prune your willow just after the catkins begin to fade.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Pussy Willow Catkins: How To Get Catkins On Pussy Willows https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/pussy-willow/get-catkins-on-pussy-willows.htm
If your willow branches remain bare until the tree leafs out, you’ll be wondering how to get catkins on pussy willow. The first thing to check is irrigation. Willows love water and grow well near rivers and streams. Those planted elsewhere need plenty of irrigation to thrive. If you have been letting your willows deal with drought on their own, or have simply forgotten to irrigate during a dry spell, the trees may be water stressed. If there are no catkins on pussy willow trees, be sure the trees are getting enough water. Is your pussy willow not flowering because it isn’t getting enough sunshine? It might be. Willows need sun and may not flower if they are in deep shade. Birds love to eat the catkins before they open, especially bullfinches. If it has been a hard winter for birds, it is possible they munched all the pussy willow catkins during the winter. It’s also possible that, by pruning at the wrong time, you eliminated this year’s pussy willow crop. Prune your willow just after the catkins begin to fade.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Pussy Willow Catkins: How To Get Catkins On Pussy Willows https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/pussy-willow/get-catkins-on-pussy-willows.htm