Our Willow Wigwam

willow wigwam


I had been thinking about one for years.  I’ve written about them, recommended them to people and talked about them.  At last this week we have been playing out in the garden and building a willow wigwam.

A trip to collect the willow wigwam kit from the World of Willow, a local supplier, was made in the snow on Sunday. Seeing where the willow came from and the lovely barn in which the willow is sorted was really special.  We really loved seeing all the colours of the different types of willow and the posy willow branches given as an extra present looked just right in a vase.

Willow structures really need to be planted before the end of March so that the willow can be planted dormant and them to grow once the weather warms up.  It had taken us slightly longer than intended to clear our plot for the wigwam so we know that the willow needed to be planted as soon as possible.

willow wigwam kit


Wednesday proved to be the perfect day for planting.   It had sunshine, and no rain and wind.  We had been provided with everything we needed for the wigwam with our kit.  The book about willow structures is great and hopefully will inspire us to make some more structures.  We decided not to put the mulch mat down before planting and will lay that down later.  Possibly this will not work,  but planting the willow direct into the ground, rather than stabbing though a mulch mat, was an easy task.

measuring out for willow wigwam



There are lots of jobs that little garden helpers can do to assist with building their new den.  Making sure the ground is even and stamping on the boards to flatten it expends lots of energy.  Helping to mark out the circle of the wigwam and then measuring the distance between the willow sticks is a maths lesson in itself.  Our most useful tool was a piece of string measuring 25cms, the distance between the main poles.  I have built wooden garden play dens before and they never seem to quite fit together.  The beauty of the willow is its flexibility.  If it doesn’t quite work then you can bend it so that it does.  I actually reckon that with just a little supervision my 8 yr. old could have managed building his den all by himself.  But that was never going to happen.  We were both having too much fun.

top of willow wigwam

Tying the twigs together at the top though is definitely a two person job and a little difficult for children to reach.  We had shorter and younger willow whips to interweave between the main structures.  We were advised that his was quite important framework to ensure that the willow grew over the lower part of the wigwam.  We haven’t tied all these in so they can be adjusted as we see how the willow grows.

  small willow wreath

We now can’t wait for the willow to grow. My son has certainly been inspired by all that weaving.  He came home with this tiny but rather intricate wreath using branches from a tree in the school playground.

I’ll post some photographs of the wigwam later in the year and they can be found here.  As for the bare patch of land around the den, there are some very special plans for that.  All will be revealed at a later date.


See also http://kidsinthegarden.co.uk/willow-dens-and-flower-meadows-reaping-the-benefits/


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20 Responses to Our Willow Wigwam

  1. thisdayilove - leyla March 23, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Ive never heard of this before, what an excellent thing to do. I am currently working out if our garden is big enough for one and where it could go

    • Lynda March 24, 2013 at 8:20 am #

      Space has always been our issue. This wigwam is 130cms in diameter. Hope you find your garden is large enough.

  2. Kierna Corr (@CiarnaC) March 23, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Hi Lynda, yay for willow, I love it, we have 3 little dens in the playground & the children make such good use of of them. We didn’t put any membrane down either & you’ll be fine, best advice is to fill the space with bark chippings, it keeps the weeds down & adds another ‘loose part’ for play, the children love ‘cooking’ with the chips. Thanks so much for adding this to the outdoor play party.

    • Lynda March 24, 2013 at 8:23 am #

      It is marvellous stuff – keep chechking it to see whether it has grown. Thanks for the advice about the membrane.

  3. Kate, Scattymumofboys March 23, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Oh my goodness! I LOVE reading blogs. I had never heard of this before and my boys would absolutely love this! I think we need to think about doing it for next year.

    • Lynda March 24, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      So far i can highly recommend it. it was far easier and more fun to build than i had imagined. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Coombemill - Fiona C March 23, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Willow Wigwam’s are great structures for the garden; I remember our children’s primary school creating one and the children really enjoyed planting and weaving. I’d be interested in seeing the structures in a few months time so please post a picture. Thank you for linking up with Country Kids.

    • Lynda March 24, 2013 at 8:27 am #

      I can certainly see why loads of schools have these in their grounds. There will definately be an update – I an hoping its all going to look very picturesque

  5. jenny paulin March 23, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    this is such an amazing idea! i am so impressed with your wigwam building x

    • Lynda March 24, 2013 at 8:29 am #

      Thank you for your comments. Planting a living structure was really very exciting

  6. Nichola Fabfortymum March 24, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    What a brilliant idea, it look fab already, but I can’t wait to see your pictures when it starts to grow

  7. Lynda March 24, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    You will definately be seeing lots more photos. Thanks for commenting

  8. Hattie March 24, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    I absolutely LOVE this. How long does it take to grow to maturity? I don’t know how long we’ll be in our current place, but a couple of years at least. Would it be worth doing, do you think? Not sure the kid would get a look in, mind, looks like a great place for a cup of tea and a novel…

    • Lynda March 25, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      Hattie It should be fully mature this year. Willow grows really fast. Definately worth doing – plant now though before the weather warms up and post us some pics

  9. Madeleine March 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Ooh, lovely, I have a plan for a ring of sunflowers as a sort-of-hidey-fort this summer!
    I wonder if Husband would agree to give up a corner of the garden for a willow wigwam…I love the concept and the alliteration. (oddly, we had a weeping pussy willow stolen from our front lawn last year!)

    • Lynda March 29, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

      Sunflowers sounds good – maybe if hubby likes them then he will agree to space being used for willow next year.

  10. Gill Crawshaw March 28, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    How lovely, what a brilliant idea. Fingers crossed for some warm weather soon to enjoy it. Love the blog, it makes me want a garden (well technically we do have one, but it’s down two flights of stairs – the joys of a top floor city flat!) x

    • Lynda March 29, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

      Thanks for your comments. I am hoping as soon as it warms the willow will grow really quickly

  11. Julie @ Wife, Mother, Gardener April 2, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    Thanks for the heads up about planting the stems in early spring when they are dormant! These are so wonderful and I look forward to making one for my kids someday. I hope yours is successful!


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