We spent a very sunny afternoon planting 1,500 willow whips in the far corner of our field. Rather than just putting an evenly spaced square plot we designed it with a very aesthetically satisfying organic curvy edge ... after all, it will be part of the view from our bedroom window. Then we thought, 'lets make this a fun place to walk and play as well as a fuel and basket making resource' .... so we laid out three twisty footpaths that lead to a central circular grassy clearing just the right size for a family picnic, or a secret quiet retreat.
As well as the fast growing species of willow which is ideal for multi fuel burning to heat our home, we have also planted among the copse a couple of hundred brightly coloured species perfect for basket weaving.
Some are a blast of sunshine yellow, others a fire blaze of oranges, we have earthy peaty chocolate browns and rich ruby reds. Now all I need to do is to learn how to make a basket!
In a month or two the willow will begin to sprout into leaf, making our design easier to see on the ground. It will be 4 or 5 years care before they are ready to begin harvesting for firewood, but much sooner for taking whips to make baskets and willow sculptures. Our friend Brenda will be running a course this year on how to make a living willow sculpture, you can have a look at the one she made for us last December here.