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I’ve finally tackled the jungle in the back garden - heaven knows what the last owner used itfor as iit was waist high in nettles - and have tarped a third ready to create a veg plot next spring, lawned a third and in the last third i would love to build the girls a willow house. But i have never done anything with trees before! Where is good to source willow? Whats the best type to use? And any other advice gratefully recieved grin

Learning from my beautiful daughters everyday

We do not own the world, we borrow it for a while from our children

Hello, I used to work with willow alot, such a beautiful medium to work with, I love it. If you want a living willow structure it will be much easier to do in the winter, then you can just order a bundle of whips and stick them in holes in the ground. If you plant them this time of year you’ll need to dig pretty large trenches and source rooted plants. You can also make a structure with willow in the summer, just not a living one, it’ll last a couple of years (depending on whether your children are as desctructive as mine?!)
Salix Viminalis is the most widely willow used for structures, it’s a shrub willow, different to the tree varieties. It has a yellow greeny colour to the stems. However you can get willow in all colours, often grown for basket weaving, and they look amazing in the winter. Viminalis is more flexible than some of the other more ornamental varieties which is why it’s nice to use with kids. I used to find these suppliers to be fantastic; Though I did use to buy in large quantities so that may have made a difference. It may be worth seeing if you can find any growers local to you as well.
Try to find a damp part of the garden, it likes to have wet feet but not full shade, and doesn’t like to be too close to buildings or walls. Don’t tie it too tightly, if possible use the rubber tubing tie you can get as it is more gentle. I was taught not to turn the withies downwards as the sap can’t rise and this will cause die back, however I have seen many structures manage well enough when pulled down into a curve. I’m worried I’ve just written loads of ‘nots’ down, it’s pretty robust and you can be really creative with it!
Hope that helps xx L

learning every day from small bear July ‘08, and baby bee April ‘12

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