Basket case

Joining other beginners at a basket weaving course at Wicken Fen on Saturday, I was surprised and delighted to leave at the end of the day with a basket that resembled a basket. I set out to make a produce basket as a way to learn about what happens to willow after it’s cut and how and why it makes such a good weaving material. It turns out that the process is laborious from cutting the willow at the right time of year, stripping off the bark and leaves then grading it into bundles, drying and re-soaking before it is ready to use for weaving. 
As soon as you start working with the damp lengths though you immediately understand why it is so useful – pliable and fibrous it bends or folds easily and can be pulled into shape even by unskilled hands. 
We all started with the same criss-cross of base struts and worked our way round thinking about shape and form at every turn. It’s important to keep the convex form so that when you add the sides later, the base remains a little inverted rather than popping out and turning your basket into a Weeble!
By the end of the day we had all produced remarkably different baskets. I sewed long handles onto mine for ease of carrying at the allotment and the next day filled it to the brim with the day’s pickings. As my children would say, “Awesome!” 

Fine weather and good progress

The weather holds fair and we make good progress at Millington Road Nursery School.

Numbers on mini garage doors

Fixing numbers onto the mini garage doors where the trikes and ride-on toys will live.



Binoculars in place on The Lookout to encourage children to stop and look at the self-seeded habitat on top of the bomb shelter

fairy circle

Making a start on the Fairy Circle and wild area. More planting and shaping of this wild corner is scheduled for the spring with the addition of annuals and more grasses to create a sensory garden. The children will be able to ‘hide’ in here whilst being in full view of the staff and enjoy the different textures and sounds captured in the mixed planting. A great place to collect seed heads, flowers and leaves for mud pies!


And the mud pie kitchen is taking shape with two work surfaces, shelves, hooks and a fresh water container for mixing mud pies and cakes.

Mud Pie Kitchen taking shape

Exciting times

First uprights and platform taking shape

Work underway at Millington Road Nursery where I’ve redesigned their old playground to create a Woodland Garden. Artisan Structures are hard at work building the treetop lookout that will take the children onto the roof of the bunker where they can get up close to the joy that is the self-seeded wild area on the top. The walkways then carry on to The Nest, a play-space in the trees. Magic!

The beautiful, de-barked chestnut trunks blending in to their new surroundings.

A goodbye and a welcome

Towards the end of last year (after the wettest gardening year in memory) Mike hung up his tools, so this is a little tribute to the person who helped make Willow & Wren a reality. The gap in postings reflects all my energies going into doing rather than reflecting as I took the business forward solo. “I miss you Mike but I do not envy you your new desk job one iota!”

All those new buds emerging from the soil and seed packets bursting out of their battered old box have me itching to roll up my sleeves after our relaxing break. Christmas is one of the holidays I enjoy most, along with many other gardeners. We’ve worked hard, through all weathers and we feel justified in putting our feet up, drawing round a fire and hibernating for a few days: beds are dug, weeds are sleeping and delicate winter flowers fill the house with their heady scents. Once the Christmas tree is back in the ground though and the baubles wrapped away, I’m eager to be out again. The new year is full of promise and I can’t wait to get back to work.

Newer Entries »

Back to top