Category Archives: Weaving Willow

The Willow harvest

About 4 or 5 years ago now, I spent a day learning the basics of willow basketry. It is a skill that requires patience and many hours of practice to actually achieve a fine result. You need plenty of space to weave the rods without them catching on the furniture and you also need very strong hands to push, pull, wedge, squeeze and hold the material in position, whilst keeping it neat, tidy and regular.

The main reason I tried to learn this skill is for techniques to build plant supports. Each Spring we need to provide supports for our floppy perennials and for this we mainly use coppiced hazel from the woods, held together with more pliable willow. Fortunately for me the finished product isn’t as fiddly as a fine basket, can be constructed quickly in situ and only needs to last a year.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been rained off work on more than one occasion and have found myself indoors for the odd morning or afternoon and in need of a project. As we have harvested our willow, thoughts turned to making a trug-like basket. Last year we had nothing to collect our produce in from the veg patch except plastic bags and boxes, which somehow just didn’t feel right with me.

I started with weaving the base and preparing the stakes
The stakes are inserted and the fun begins…
and hey presto! I’ve got a basket.
and another

And another!

Home grown willow to home made baskets. Far from perfection but a very satisfying process, an enjoyable way to pass the time on rainy days and a useful product at the end of it. All for free.

Growing and Harvesting Willow

Two years ago we had an opportunity to plant up an area besides the moat that had been neglected:IMG_1524

 

We wanted a low screen during the summer, winter interest, low maintenance and plants that would enjoy the boggy conditions. So we decided to go for a selection of willows.  Several varieties were selected for their vibrant stem colours  and we ordered some cuttings on-line.  Following the planting guidelines we made our willow bed:

IMG_1549IMG_1555

 

We covered the black plastic with wood chippings and away grew the willow.  In February last year we coppiced the willow and developed another area with our own cuttings. This February we coppiced the willow again and this time have enough willow to make a willow basket.

I thought I would share with you a short video I made at home this week of my attempts to weave the willow basket, made from our very own, home grown, willow.

I hope that made you smile as much as it did me, on playback!