We enjoyed a day playing with willow recently in the garden of friends Liz and Rich’s new home. They wanted us to build a play feature from willow for their youngsters Ella and Edward. So we arrived amongst the mess of builders’ vans, wheelbarrows encrusted in concrete, and piles of materials stripped out of the old house which is undergoing renovation.
We used some of the prunings from the pollarded Violet Willow in our garden which I shared in my recent post about my garden journal in February, along with lots of different coloured prunings from our allotment community garden which was also featured in an earlier post concerning the magic of willows. We found a suitable spot in the bottom of the garden partly shaded under mature trees and with a good amount of moisture in the soil under a layer of gravel. We collected our tools together, marked out the shape and loosened the top layer of soil.
Before we could start placing the willow wands we had to remove the many little seedlings that had found their way into the moist gravel, an ideal seed bed. The first pic below shows just how many we found. They will find a new home at the allotments bartered in exchange for the willow prunings. There was a good selection with wildlife value including Primroses, Pulmonarias, Arum Lily and seedling Hollies and Cotoneasters. Once clear the willows were put in place but we had to make a hole with an augur to get them in deeply. The shape was soon forming – an igloo of willow.
We made a low entry tunnel and then moved on to the main body. The area around the cuttings and the ground inside was mulched with bark chip partly to keep the prunings moist to help rapid rooting but also to make a comfortable play surface.
Five hours later it was finished and we had tidied up. We admired our handywork over a last cup of coffee and slice of Victoria Sponge. We reminded Liz to keep it well watered and took our tools back to the car, which was much more empty on our return journey than on our way there in the morning.
As the new house is not ready to move into yet we had to wait to see the children’s reaction until Liz brought them over to see it. When they came it was very well received! Liz said the children were so pleased with it that it made an enjoyable day even more worthwhile. Ella soon realised that it would be a good place for playing hide and seek and Edward took his role as an explorer very seriously. Here’s to loads of fun, smiles and shared times with friends for years to come. And of course it is another fine example of recycling in the garden.