The lovely weather at the weekend meant I managed to get loads done in the garden which always leaves me with a great sense of achievement. I even managed to kick start my Willow Arbour project.
I was lucky to be given 20 willow cuttings at Christmas which have been sitting in a temporary holding bed until I could decide what to do with them. I had thought about creating a willow arch at the entrance to the Kitchen Garden, but then I had an even better idea.
Why not create a secret hideaway in one corner of the orchard. The corner I’m thinking of has the most fantastic view across open countryside and has an old a garden bench where I perch myself when I need time to reflect. Not sure if there are stranger things at play, but I always seem to get a better sense of perspective when I’m sitting in that corner of the garden. Probably something to do with magnets! 🙂
As its my first attempt at Willow I had to swot up on what makes the ideal growing conditions. Appears willow likes damp conditions in plenty of sun, which probably explains why you often see it growing alongside a pond or river. This makes sense as I remember once planting a willow tunnel for the children in my class when I was a classroom assistant. Although it did grow it wasn’t very vigorous, which was likely down to the fact they were planted in the shade of a tree and the tree likely sucked all the moisture out of the ground.
This time round the spot I’ve chosen is in full sun and is a good distance from any trees, apart from the fruit trees and they are far enough away not to affect anything.
If you’d like to grow your own willow feature there’s plenty of information on the web to help you get started and not forgetting the trusty book shop if, like me, you prefer the printed word. Along with the cuttings I was also given a book by Jon Warnes called ‘Living Willow Scuplture. It’s published by Search Press and has all the information you need to get started and at £7.95 excellent value for money. I haven’t followed the book to the letter but it certainly gave me the inspiration to have a go myself.
Preparing the ground for planting
I going to create a small arc of growth to surround my garden seat, which ideally will grow to look fairly symmetrical. When I need to create an arc in the garden I use the old string line method. Simply hammer one end of the line in the ground, then take the other end and keeping the string taught, scrape an arc out of the ground. If like me you’re planting on grass it can take a few attempts, and keep the line nice and taught and it should work just fine.
It’s worth taking your time over the marking out as when the willow eventually grows it will look all over the place.
When I was happy with the basic shape I dug the top 6 inches of soil out into my wheelbarrow. Like most plants Willow will benefit from a little helping hand, so I added some compost to the top soil and a sprinkling of Fish Blood and Bone.
Then before putting the new mixture back I first loosened the next 8 inches of soil so the cuttings would have the best chance to grow away. Into this I worked some of the mixture and gave it a good watering.
As willow likes water I thought I would add some into the bottom of the planting hole before planting the cuttings. I then put the new enriched top soil back into what was a small semi circular trench, and gave them another good watering.
I’m not sure if they will root but they have a fighting chance, so fingers crossed in a few months we should have our very own secret living willow Arbour!
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