Willow weaving

wigwam plant support, another use for willow after pruning

It’s early March and time to get the willow weaving – new structures, plant supports and even the odd free-form basket, all from bits of twigs and sticks. Once the final winter pruning and tidying up is done there’s an awful lot of twiggy debris around the garden. Much of it is for the shredder but there’s plenty of good lengths of fine red and yellow willow, birch and cornus, and even privet, clematis, bramble and ivy has a use.

Yesterday was  a perfect spring day, sun shining, frogs croaking in the pond, the robin perching close by ever ready to snap up a tasty morsal from the soil. My soil, by the way, is classed as clay, hmm well there’s clay and there’s My clay  – a clue being the remains of many now disused brick pits around the locality, a whole industry of brickmaking was sited around here because of the beautiful red clay – perfect for bricks but planting into it is a nightmare! I could throw pots from it right now if I dig more than six inches down and hit subsoil, I’ve lost trees that I’ve planted they

willow arch

drown in the hole as it becomes impervious before the roots get established. Apart from willow though, it thrives in it. Planting living willow structures was an inspiration when we started making the garden 16 years ago. By that I mean it has had a threefold effect – drying out the soil, enriching it with leafmatter and filling the blank canvas of a new garden with instant vibrant green growth and habitat for living things. And it’s instant gratification – a structure installed in February comes into leaf in April, taking root and growing withies up to two metres tall in a season. The withies then provide a handy crop in the winter months of useful willow for making baskets.

Frame baskets

My lovely clay soil