Coloured woven willow Roy Youdale, Basketmaker

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Willow Growing & Harvesting

Willow is a quite amazing plant, producing a huge variety of colours, and prodigious annual growth -- up to 15 feet in some cases.

There are over 1,500 varieties of willow in England alone, many of which can be used for making baskets and structures for the garden.

Freshly harvested willow
Freshly harvested willow from my allotments









The Annual Cycle

Willow grows from early March to mid-September, during which period it can grow inches per day in the right conditions. Planting is traditionally closely spaced, forcing the willow rods to grow straight and and tall to reach the light, which makes them ideal for basket weaving. It produces generous foliage during the growing season.

From mid-September to late November willow stops growing and gradually sheds its foliage. Between late November and early March willow is dormant and this is the season both for harvesting and for planting cuttings.

I grow 30 different varieties of willow for their bark colour, and weave some of this when freshly harvested. The remainder is allowed to dry out completely and is then resoaked prior to use.

Willow in leaf
Willow in full leaf on my allotments










Further Information

If you would like further information about growing and using willow for basketmaking, you can obtain a copy of a comprehensive publication:

Wilow pamphlet cover

"Cultivation and Use of Basket Willows" A Guide to Growing Basket Willows, produced by The Basketmakers' Association and IACR Long Ashton Research Station, 2001, price £5 (including p&p to UK addresses) available from:

Basketmakers' Association Sales

216 Walton Road

East Molesey

Surrey KT8 0HR

Please make cheques payable to: The Basketmakers' Association













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