Sunday, 2 October 2011

Wiilow - a lesson in patience

I have been growing willows on the border of one side of my plot for two years now and they are reaching skyward. Before the good weather at the end of September and beginning of October many of the leaves were turning yellow as the willow were slowly becoming dormant. The process of settling into their winter sleep has stopped and the green leaves are sparkling in the sunlight. I am enjoying these wonderful Indian summer days but I am also impatient. Why?   I want my willows to become dormant so I can begin coppice them and create some living willow structures.
If I cut the willows now the whips will grow new leaves and be weaker and will not root as well when they are planted.  In the dormant state they will root well. I must wait patiently for the weather to grow colder so I can begin my willow projects. I have been looking at the whips and have several sturdy 3 year old whips which I need to create a living seat and a woven table. I would also like to make an arbour if I have enough strong willows.   Hopefully my seat will look as good as this on made at Willow Works!  The uprights are planted about 12 - 16 inches deep (35 -45 cm).  In spring the uprights will begin growing again.

In November I should be able to begin creating the willow projects I have decided upon.  In the mean time I am collecting the tools I will need and deciding on the site for them to be placed.  It is exciting to anticipate the making of these craft objects.

Willow has been coppiced and used for furniture making, fedges, for frames, pea & bean sticks  for centuries. In Scandinavia there is research into the use of willow as a fuel in biomass power stations and it has the advantage of absorbing the carbon dioxide created when electricity is generated.  In addition willow will grow on poor boggy soil where other plants would struggle to survive.  In  the Netherlands willow and alder have been used to to protect polders from erosion by the sea for hundreds of years. One recent  use of Willow fedges  in Europe is to buffer noise and pollution along motor ways.

I am using them to create craft objects on a very small scale but it feels good to be going to coppice and harvest willows as my ancestors did and make use of them productively on my plot and for gifts for my friends.  By spring my willow hedge on the plot will have begun growing again and provide shelter for insects, mice and birds.  As well as  the flowers providing nector for the bees.  It will also give me a crop of new willow whips for more projects at the end of the 2012. I will blog next month about how my willow crafting has gone.

With Reiki Blessings and Light

See also Willow 6th February 2011

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