Creating living willow
Creating a living willow (Salix) sculpture is one of the most exciting projects you can do in your garden. Because this particular customer has children we decided to create something simple so they could take part in it's construction, and practical so they could have plenty of fun playing in it.
So we decided to build an Igloo.
When should I make my Willow Igloo
This is a project that is best done over the winter months, when the willow has no leaves and is in it's dormant state. You can plant from the end of November until the end of March providing there is no frost. This will give the willow a chance to develop a root system for the growing season in Spring and Summer. It is best not to plant after the end of March, as your willow may not do so well.
Where can I get a Living Willow Kit
The Igloo you see here is now several years old, and the grass has now grown somewhat scraggly round the base. However when you first plant your willow you should remove all the turf in the shape of the structure you want to create. Then dig in as much compost as you can to give your new willow a good start. The actual planting is then easy, simply push your willow canes into the ground. You should make sure that you keep the area around the new canes weed free. Some people put a heavy mulch or matting down to help with weed control. There are many willow growers who now supply kits. Our igloo was a kit which came with ready cut to length stems of fresh willow and a plan which was helpful. We got our kit from JPR environmental (follow link HERE ) There are other suppliers to visit and online for example Musgrove willow HERE or Yorkshire willow HERE
Caring for my Living Willow Igloo
Once established your willow structure will require minimal maintenance. However during the Summer it will grow vigorously in all directions. You should tie in any new shots that will make the structure thicker and stronger and use a sturdy pair of secateurs to trim excess growth back to it's original shape.
Of course there are many ways to enjoy living willow. The structure pictured above is called The Cathedral. You could create an arbour, fence, windbreak, tunnel, indeed whatever idea you can come up with. Have fun!
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