Four years ago, I started a small willow nursery for personal use. I got willow cuttings from my friend Michael Dodge who owns Vermont Willows. I also bought 12’ foot willow rods to make a living willow tunnels for my chickens; an escape for my girls in case a bird of prey gets the wrong idea. The chickens love these dense structures that have the added benefit of providing some cool shade. Now my willow nursery stock has matured I have harvested 16’ foot rods, and started to build the willow structures I have always wanted to make.
This summer, I made the first of the large willow structures or garden obelisks. My garden is still young and lacks verticality and these structures provide an instant vertical element.
For the first structure I detained a golden hop that had been traipsing along the top of a retaining dry stone wall and devouring a bench every summer for a few years. No surprise, the hops loves the upright structure, and within two weeks has pretty much covered it. My second structure replaced a sickly Taxus cuspidate- pyramidal yew, part of an alley of yews that leads down to the pond. This 10’ foot willow structure keeps the architecture of the alley, but adds an element of surprise. A Lonicera sempervirens ‘John Clayton’- trumpet honeysuckle will cover the structure in a few years.
I decided to make one more large structure 12ft this time, in a lower border and repeated the golden hops. At the end of an open valley, we have strong westerly winds so I buried re-bar rods and tied the top for added stability.
My next project is to make willow fences or ‘wattles’ around a few evergreen trees to protect the lower part of the trees from munching deer.
I will post my future projects as I achieve them.
Once my willow stock has been replenished I will make these structures available to local gardeners.