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Team Work!

At the beginning of 2022, I was invited to Priory Farm Estate to learn more about their vision for the Woodland Fairy Walk, a new area within the Bluebell woods that form part of their Discovery Land in South Nutfield. I was commissioned to weave Cocoons from Willow around steel armatures created to form the structures.

The team were keen to be involved and before starting work on the large Cocoons I first spent an enjoyable sunny day in January with these talented individuals teaching them how to weave smaller versions that would hang in the woodlands Fairy Nursery!

As this was the first time I had created a large Cocoon I wasn’t quite sure how long each would take to weave and how much Willow would be needed to complete the project. The name of the Willow used was Black Maul, it was between 6ft and 8ft in length. This is a cultivated Willow from my supplier in Somerset and as it is a brown (dried) Willow it needed re-hydrating before use (24 hours per foot), a novel idea was to use the bucket of the tractor filled with water to soak the Willow, this was the perfect length!

In early February I began work on the smaller Cocoon and when satisfied with the progress made I moved on to the medium one, the largest Cocoon I left to the team to work on and they really did do a great job. Weaving with Willow is a very mindful activity and once you get into the rhythm of weaving the time passes quite quickly and the work was completed in the estimated time expected and the Cocoons were ready for transportation to their final resting place in the woods.

On 3rd April together with my Grandchildren, I was so excited to visit the Woodland Fairy Walk for myself, as we entered the portal we followed the instructions, knocking and turning three times before magically shrinking to the size of a fairy! I was so proud to see the Cocoons in place, what a lovely experience from start to end!

What’s Coming Up?

We have a variety of workshops running this Spring, below is just a selection for April that you may be interested in. Come alone or bring a friend, our outdoor workshops are enjoyable, mindful and relaxing!

Whittle & Weave

Teaming up once again with Ruth Wheeler we will bring you our Whittle & Weave workshop to our shared studio, Birtley Woodland Art Space. This is a chance for individuals and family groups to combine Willow Craft and Pyrography into one morning, afternoon or full-day workshop. Our published Whittle & Weave seasonal workshop dates are both during term time and also in the holidays so we expect this will attract different audiences depending on the selected date.

Dried Flower Workshops

Join me, Renee (aka The Girl Who Gardens) and Debbie in our new dried flower wreath workshops. We use a selection of Willows to weave the initial wreath base and you will learn various techniques to dress your wreath with dried grasses, seed heads and beautiful dried flowers and foliage sourced from local sustainable suppliers.

Willow In The Wood

Our popular Willow Craft, Willow In The Wood and Hen In The Woods workshops return, offering a selection of attractive Willow art pieces for you to create and display around your home and garden or make as a gift for a friend. The Willow crafts include Dragonfly, Flowers, Butterflies, Platters, Hearts, Bird Feeders, Spheres and new this year, Bird Houses!

Willow Sculpture Workshops

Finally, we will also introduce our new Willow Sculpture workshops, commencing with our Willow Hen/Chicken, a relaxing full-day weaving workshop working from drawings, photos or a design of your choice. This workshop also includes a delicious lunch!

Tool Sharpening Workshop

Sharpening your tools is an important task to undertake, join Paul and learn the correct techniques to apply to a variety of tools! This is a 3-hour course where you can bring your Garden Tools, Coppicing and Green Woodworking tools with you to sharpen.

We look forward to welcoming you and your friends and family to one of our Spring workshops! We also welcome private groups, see here for more information: PRIVATE GROUPS

See you soon,

Lorraine & Paul

Mothers Day – Gift An Experience

Does your Mother enjoy being out in the garden, visiting picturesque locations in the countryside with the company of like-minded people? If you gift your Mum an experience it will be a memory she will treasure and if you are able to join her even better too! We have some enjoyable outdoor workshop experiences coming up that you may find to be the perfect gift!

See our forthcoming calendar of events and book today. Alternatively, you can purchase a gift voucher that can be redeemed against any event.

Living Willow

February and March, just before Spring has sprung into life is a perfect time of year to work with Living Willow to create structures that will soon put on growth as we move into Spring and continue growing throughout the Summer months. We only have a short time period for planting Willow, ideally, this is completed by the end of March. If nurtured properly the Living Willow structures will continue to grow for many years to come.

Our Living Willow Harlequin Tree Workshop is very relaxing, mindful and satisfying. We commence with weaving a small tree so that everyone learns the technique before then applying it to the larger Harlequin Tree. The selection of photos below is from a recent workshop at Birtley Woodland Art Space, our shared studio in Bramley, Guildford. The 3rd image is of a Living Willow Globe, a new workshop we have introduced this year and one I am excited to be delivering. The 4th image is of the Harlequin Trees I planted in the ground on the Birtley Estate this time last year, I will cut back the top growth in late March ready for the green growth that will appear in the Spring.

WILLOW HARLEQUIN TREE

The Harlequin Tree is very easy to grow and can remain in the original planting pot or be transplanted into the ground or a larger pot once the root base has become established.

Make sure you do not let your Harlequin Tree dry out, you can even stand it in water and top up when needed.

A crown of leaves will grow from the top during the Spring, Summer and Autumn. You can shape the crown up until around August. In the Winter the tree will become dormant. You should cut back the top growth in March, the growing cycle will then begin again. Rub off the side buds as they swell and form leaves to stop them from growing further, this is not requisite merely a matter of choice if you do not want new growth to distract from the pattern.  The woven Willow stems will slowly grow together over 10 years.

PLANT CARE

Perfect In Pots
Plant In Shade
Plant In Sunshine
Easy To Grow

Top Tips

  • Keep very well watered, especially on sunny breezy summer days
  • Trim regularly – more trims gives a better shaped crown
  • Pinch out new side shoots to retain plant shape

Care Information

  • Plant or position the container in any sunny or partially shaded spot. If after 3 months you wish to transfer you tree into the garden or larger pot, dig a hole slightly larger than the pot and transfer the plant. Backfill and firm in well.
  • Alternatively, plant the tree in ornamental container containing a soil-based compost such as John Innes No. 3.
  • Water in well and continue to water daily for the first 4 weeks after planting to keep the soil moist at all times. Willow is quite happy in moist soil so there is no danger of overwatering!

Once you start weaving with Willow you are sure to get hooked!

Join me soon to learn more about Willow.

Lorraine

HEDGELAYING CHAMPION

On Sunday 20th February Paul participated in the South of England Hedgelaying Societies 2022 annual competition and was the proud winner of the South of England Championship Cup from the Champions Class!

He also went on to win Best Staking & Binding and the Points Trophy, the highest ploughing match Hedgelaying and the South of England Championships combined results received this season. Paul achieved a total of 39 points out of a possible 40.

Paul was delighted to win all these trophies given he hadn’t won since 2009, although, he has been placed second 7 or 8 times between then and now!

“Predominantly made up of Hawthorn, the hedge proved far more difficult than originally was thought due to the stock fence behind which for left-handed cutters like myself is difficult but you just have to get on with it and 5 hours later I am pleased that I did just that” Paul Matthews

I hope you will all join me in congratulating Paul on his achievements.

Thank you,

Lorraine