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.
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.
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.
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.
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.