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a living willow structure

I have always wanted to do this, but you know - where do you start.. where do you get the materials from? I have so many others things I should be doing now.. and then one day a neighbour was cutting back the shoots on their willow wigwamy thingy - and asked if we wanted some. Great! thanks! If you don't have a friendly willow growing neighbour - there appear to be lots of places that are willing to sell willow.

Didn't know what you are supposed to do with it, and did a little surfing, but to be honest there is very little on the net about how to make one of these yourself - there are alot of websites about people who do these for a living - turn up at a school build a structure - largely out of dead material, add some live and there you go. Very nice too but for the DIYer there are one or two useful sites for example garden organic , and BBC gardening

I did learn a few really useful facts.

  1. It's best to plant willow in the winter.
  2. Willow is pretty tough and will probably grow
  3. keep the new cuttings in water and keep watering once planted until established (very easy as its been raining so much!)
  4. tie in or prune growth in spring.

So, here's what I did. Firstly spent a bit of time pondering with himself on what design, we thought as this was our first go, we would keep it simple. As I burn so well in the sun, we wanted something with shade, we decided on a tunnel shape, which would be fun for the cat and my son!, but also a good place for the blankie in the summer sun (shade and privacy)

Next, Armed with my spade, I cut two parallel slits in the lawn, as deep as I could sink the spade

Then I spaced out the thickest and strongest whips along these lines, and then tied them together in hoops. The string I have used is ordinary white string (what I had in my pocket at the time), which will disintergrate - I am just hoping it will hold together long enough to become established!

In between the hoops I planted the smaller whips, spacing fairly closely and then simply weaved these in and out of the hoops - trying to keep it both attractive and adding strength to the structure. then I trod the spade cuts carefully together.

 

We've had some stormy weather, but seems to cope, and as as you can see from the top picture, its alive and green! Now we just have to weave in the new green branches as they grow, and prune back next spring, if necessary.

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