Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Weaving willow in Essex

The finished woven willow screens - made by Wassledine

The finished screens

I spent an enjoyable day this week, with a charming couple in Essex, building a pair of woven willow fences in their lovely garden. We had started talking about the project eight months before, in the depths of winter and whilst it took a while to sort out the details, the bulk of the delay was entirely my doing – I always avoid working on woven willow projects outside, in the winter. So I had suggested spring 2019 and, well, it turned into June.

The fact that Michele is a keen plantswoman is clear from the moment one approaches the house. Pots of plants dominate. Space to work was tight and I was worried that I would be spending the day on tip-toe, avoiding prize specimens. However, with the confidence of one who produces her own stock, Michele tugged out armfuls of straying strawberries to make space for my size 11s. “I’ve already got loads in pots, so we won’t miss these” she said.

Weaving the screens. Wassledine wven willwo screens amde in situ

Weaving the screens

From the outset, it was clear that I needed to make the fences in situ as they were to be curved. I like in situ work – it produces a beautiful continuous effect that just can’t be achieved with panels. There was to be a certain amount of ‘design as we go’ involved, to include a variation in height, the detail of which was an unknown before we started. Michele and Billy were keen to get involved with the project so I agreed to work with them, teaching as we progressed. This approach proved cost-effective as well as enjoyable (for me at least), because they were confident enough to pick up the job on their own after a day’s tuition. They finished the job rather proficiently.

I was pleased with the result. So too were my clients (they gave that impression anyway). The screen provides a visual division between vegetable and ornamental gardens (or in Michele’s case vegetable and useful plants for dyes and weaving), it provides a barrier to keep a sweet-toothed Jack Russell terrier out of the strawberry patch. And of course, it looks lovely.

Thanks to Michele and Billy. And those remaining strawberries were excellent!

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