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.