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https://www.nature-recovery-network.org/willows-in-spring/

WIllows in Spring

Hi Everybody, Happy Spring!


This is a brief news update from Andy, Paul and Charlotte at Willow Coppice, a project which includes building a community of people interested in nature recovery, planting, learning and making with willow, hazel and other natural materials. We think you have asked to join our mailing list, which will include opportunities to learn and volunteer and meet up, but please do let us know if you’d rather not receive our updates.

We wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved so far. It has been a really active season and it has been wonderful working with all of you who have volunteered to help out on various projects. As well as time and energy you’ve gifted us seeds and saplings, benches and tables, spaces to plant, landscaping fabrics and donations, our own Willow Coppice carved spoon, and your expertise and inspiration.

 

image001Harvest Festival.
Photo: Charlotte Holmes.

 

Late winter / early spring is the time to cut willow withies. We gathered a beautiful crop of willow for weaving from last year’s beds, and lovingly sorted them into the different coloured varieties and lengths. Our final cut of the season at Wood Farm ended in torchlight, it was a magical way to finish the harvesting.

 

In addition to the fine basketry willow we are growing in beds, we’ve been cutting bigger material as you’ve told us about your own trees which otherwise might go to waste. We’ve loved using your pollarded willow branches for fencing and bigger projects – if you have a large willow tree in your garden and we can help you with pollarding in the future please let us know, we can always find a use for big sticks!

 

This has also been the season for planting, and we planted several thousand new willow cuttings at our Wood Farm site and replenished our willow beds at The Peace Oak in Eynsham. A further scheme was the establishment of multiple small ‘micro’ sites around Eynsham and Oxfordshire, taking our mini-coppice notion to a miniature level and we found ourselves planting new willow beds right up to the cut-off point of proper spring / early April. Many of you have also taken handfuls of willow cuttings to grow in your own gardens.

For all you willow afficionados we have added several interesting willow varieties to our existing stock, with thanks to Monsieur Jardin for providing us with masses of the gorgeous chocolatey Daphnoides Continental Purple and the brilliant golden reds of Chermensia. We were already growing Noire de Villaine, Jaune Hautive, Yelverton, Norbury, Green Osier, Purpurea and Flanders Red, we’ve now planted new varieties Cohu Blue, White Welsh, Dickie Meadows, Swedish Osier and Blue Stem and some ornamental contorted willow. The collection begins… if you’re a basket maker and have a favourite variety of willow you’d like us to start growing please let us know!

 

With your help we planted a couple of hundred more tree saplings, including donated apples and home-grown hazels to expand our tiny forest. Our Tiny Talk with the Nature Recovery Network, describing more about the principle of micro coppicing, is on Youtube here if you missed it.

We met with the fabulous people of Oxford City Farm, the community-led charity growing food and creating outdoor educational and recreational experiences. Here we established some new willow beds and planted 6 different varieties. We hope Oxford City Farm will be working with us and working with willow for years to come!

We are developing designs for a celebratory willow sculpture which will be constructed there later in the summer.

 

 

image003Vincent's Wood Coppice Party.
Photo: Charlotte Holmes.

 

We had a brilliant time in Vincent’s Wood over 3 sunny Saturdays in February. We coppiced older hazels, laid new for regrowth, and protected small shoots from the deer with woven tree guards made from the coppiced wood, which form habitat piles and a lovely woodland art installation! We hope to see a surge in bio-diversity as dormant seeds come to life where the sunshine will now reach the forest floor. Working without power tools, all of us spread out in the woods and blessed with the early spring sunshine, it was an incredibly peaceful and restorative time. We’ve since been using some of the coppice material to create sculptural works.

 

willow_woodWillow Art.
Photo: Charlotte Holmes.

 

After all of the growing, harvesting and planting was completed, it was time to start making; community projects, including creating in-situ woven hazel fencing at Bladon’s community pub The White House.

image005Fencing The White House, Bladon.
Photo: Charlotte Holmes.

  

To celebrate Earth Day we started building a giant willow dome at the Peace Oak community orchard in Eynsham.  With lots of help (plus a bit of beer and a lot of laughing) we have the framework in place, but need help adding to the structure and twining willow around the arches – please drop us a line if you’d like to help finish the dome!

image006The Dôme at Peace Oak.
Photo: Charlotte Holmes.

 

Eynsham residents may have noticed in addition to the multiple twiggy things popping up around the village that we have woven a multi-coloured willow and hazel arch for local business the Market Garden to celebrate the opening of their new organic café.

As the days lengthen and there’s the hint of summer in the air, we’re beginning a craft club on Thursday evenings from mid-May at Peace Oak, alongside David Knight spoon carving https://www.spooncarving.uk/. We’ll be teaching willow weaving including willow fish, wreaths, trays, plant supports etc, and David will be teaching green wood working, including spoon carving and knife skills.  Other tutors will expand the project and workshop schedule. 

 

image007WIllow Coppice Spoon, by David 'The Artful Bodger' Knight.
Photo: Charlotte Holmes.

 

We have a few projects to undertake over the next few weeks, including putting together a willow ArtWeeks trail. If you have a location for a temporary willow feature to add to the trail, please get in touch!

Returning to the theme of growing, we have identified two significant new sites for planting willow next Autumn, and we’re so excited about the opportunity this gives us to grow masses more pesticide free willow and expand our varieties. We really need your help to set up the beds over the summer so they’re all ready for planting in late autumn / winter. There will be lots of opportunities to get involved, so please please please let us know if you can help!

 

image008WIllow Arche.
Photo: Charlotte Holmes

 

And as ever, if you have a location where you’d like us to plant willow or harvest willow, let us know.

 

Our spring in numbers, you’ve helped us to get…..

 

2,480 willow cuttings dibbed (or poinked)

120 sapling trees planted

60 hazels coppiced

8 giant birds-nest-deer-guards woven

7 living willow arches arched

5 new willow beds created

5 hazel and willow fences built

3 living willow fedges fedged

2 willow window wreaths woven

1 giant hazel arch twisted

1 willow waves log pile surfed

1 g>iant Earth Day dome half-built

Countless willow Christmas trees and wreaths

A basket woven with love

Innumerable stories told

And countless cakes eaten.

 

Thank you so much for your time and trees, donations and creativity.  We can’t wait to make and grow more with you! 

image009Growing.
Photo: Charlotte Holmes

 

Andy, Charlotte and Paul

Spring 2021

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willowcoppice.co.uk

Making & Growing

willowcoppice.co.uk