Category Archives: Willow

Heart of Flowers

Where would we be without Hellebores at this time of year?

The race is on and I’m still trying to grab all those little weed seedlings, springing up right before my very eyes.  In between some more major jobs, I can be found kneeling down and combing over the ground, patiently removing them with my hand fork.  I remember an old allotmenteer commenting once on my weeding stance ‘What are you doing scrabbling around down there like a chicken in dirt? You need a hoe’  Well, he had a point.  If the garden plants were set out in nice neat rows like his vegetable patch, I’d be the first one to grab a hoe.  As it is,  I have to be more discerning..

For example, we enjoy growing forget-me-nots which are annual self seeders. At this time of year they look like this:

for the last couple of years we have been inundated with this:

Valerianella locusta, otherwise known as Lamb’s lettuce.

Close up you can see the differences in colour, leaf shape and veining but faced with a patch of both, you have to get really quite close to tell them apart:

Weeding them out can  drive you crazy if you allow it, I actually find the process quite meditative.

When we were not scrabbling around like chickens last week, we were doing this:

Still pruning roses

Cutting down Miscanthus

and transplanting snowdrops around…

 

Coppicing the willows and dogwood

and taking cuttings.  Making bundles for later use as plant supports

and most importantly enjoying the garden, both outside

Cornus mas

Hellebore foetidus

AND IN… (all very fragrant)

Rosemary

Euphorbia myrsinites

Juniper

Spotted laurel

Thyme

 

 

The Willow Harvest

Growing willow to weave was a project I started 3 years ago after participating in a basket making course.

When my client asked me to make some planting suggestions for this area next to the moat, it was the best plant that came to mind.

It would provide a leafy screen for the Holiday Cottages in the summer,  richly colourful stems over winter, pretty pussy willow for floral displays in the Spring and a bounty of willow to weave and create plant protection and supports for us in the summer.

Initially I called West Wales Willows for advice on which, of the many varieties of Salix, I should plant for colour, flowers and weaving.  They sent me some cuttings and we were away…

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Oooh so lovely.

Once coppiced the willow can be stored horizontally in a dry place for several years.  It can be woven now without any preparation as the wood is very malleable.  After a month or so, it will be too dry and will require soaking before weaving or it will just crack.

Im going to be busy weaving this month, that’s for sure…