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