Somerset Willows

I love Salix (willows) – they are one of my favourite trees almost on a par with Betulas (Birches). I always have liked them, our own native species and the garden varieties we can grow. We have several at home in our garden and use them on our allotment communal gardens where we have a Withy Bed with 17 different varieties with different coloured stems and leaves. From these we have made a Fedge, which is a living hedge and a Willow Dome and Willow Tunnel for the children.

I used to like seeing them as a child when I fished a local stream. We moved from one ancient gnarled willow to another. Many were hollow pollarded specimens completely open on one side. We explored the hollow ones as we could often get inside them and look up at the sky. They were great shelters when rain showers stopped us fishing.

When we found ourselves in Somerset we realised that we were close to the Wetland and Willows Centre, so we just had to drop by and have a wander.

2015 05 11_1519

We followed  a sign taking us for a tour around the productive land around the centre. We passed over a bridge with sides constructed from willow with decorative willow features within.

2015 05 11_1465 2015 05 11_1466

The path took us to an area full of willow structures mainly places for children to explore, even including a willow snail!

2015 05 11_1467 2015 05 11_1468 2015 05 11_14702015 05 11_1469  2015 05 11_14742015 05 11_1472 2015 05 11_1473

 

As we moved on we came across a willow drying fence where the harvested willows were hung out to dry. A little further on as we made our way through a wooded area we found this willow spider in its web, a beautiful hedgehog and a buzzard flying through the branches.

2015 05 11_1476 2015 05 11_14782015 05 11_1481

2015 05 11_1483 2015 05 11_1484 2015 05 11_1485

Leaving the wood we found ourselves walking through the wetlands, the drainage of which was controlled by windmills, sluices and a series of ditches. Large areas were willow plantations, the productive heart of the wetlands.

 

2015 05 11_1486 2015 05 11_1487 2015 05 11_1488 2015 05 11_1489 2015 05 11_1490 2015 05 11_1492

 

As we were reaching the end of our tour of the wetlands we discovered the drying racks where the harvested willow wands were left to dry.

2015 05 11_1501 2015 05 11_1500

Before leaving we just had to look at the centre’s museum. We were amazed at how many things are made from willow and all the other items from the past. My first museum photo gives a taster of the delights in the museum. To find out more look through the gallery below. To enjoy my gallery just click on the first picture and use the arrows to negotiate your way through.

We enjoyed our visit to find out more about willows and came away simply amazed! We came away with this unusual willow bird table.

2015 05 11_1518

2015 05 11_1503

 

 

 

About greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.
This entry was posted in countryside, landscapes, meadows, trees and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.