Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stripping the Willow.

One of my allotment neighbours told me a couple of weeks ago that she was about to remove a small pollarded willow tree from her back garden, as the roots were starting to grow through the nearby pond foundations. Would I like the top growth for basket making? Ohh, yes please. So I gave her a hand to lop the top growth off and came away with a large bundle of willow.

This is it after about a week, when the leaves had wilted.

I wasn`t entirely sure what to do with it as regards to processing, but reasoned that leaving the canes (Branches? Rods??? Withies????) in amongst a pile of rotting leaves wasn`t a good idea. So I decided to strip off the foliage. I ended up with a sack of leaves for the compost bin, and quite a lot of promising looking willow.

What next? I thought hanging it up to dry under the eaves might be a good idea, for air circulation. And it made a very artistic looking pix against my weathered old shed, I thought!

I couldn`t resist making something, even though the willow was still green. So I wove a little God`s Eye to put in the herb garden. Yup, you`re seeing right...the base is made from two knitting needles. I keep getting given bags of old knitting needles for school and craft groups so when I take out all the old bent "useless" ones, I recycle them into row and plant markers. (Yes, my fellow allotmenters do think I`m a bit strange sometimes.....)

I`ve been growing willow this season already, incidentally, following a basket weaving workshop I did last March at which I made my one and only basket so far.

Now, I`m sure someone out there is shaking their heads and going "Wrong, all wrong." If so, could you please send me a link to a good website or a book title where I can learn about willow growing and processing? I don`t seem to be able to find much, and I`m reluctant to shell out for a book until I know that it will tell me what I need to know. Specifically I want to find out about the bit between harvesting it and actually making the basket.


spider said...

Recently happened upon your blog and am enjoying it alot! With all the cat photos and fiber posts, it's a joy to rea. Will be checking in often. All those willow leaves would have made a dandy natural dye, though. Please do take a look at my new blog:
Maybe you'll find some things about it you'll like, too. Thanks!

Aprilynne said...

No advice about Willow cultivating, but I could help you with tomatoes and watermelons =) We used to weave honeysuckle into weird looking baskets, and I just took down a tree eating morning glory vine. Too bad I was too tired to take any vine harvesting action, even tho I did consider it.

happy basketing! =)*)

sal the spider said...

Susie Vaughan's Handmade Baskets (with the tagline...from nature's colourful materials) Search Press ISBN 0 85532 755 3
I got mine on a regular pilgrimage to CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology) they do mail order from their site. If yo want to look first you can borrow mine for a shufty if you'd like. Nice book, some lovely mixed "hedgerow" type baskets too. NAYY :-)
Sal xxx

jessie said...

I love that picture of the willow hanging to dry.

Can't help you with a website but I'm sure there is something out there. It's the Internet!