This month, I have the pleasure of sharing the content of another blog that I recently came across as I was creating a maker profile in the Weavers around the World directory for Lene Rasmussen. She is a professional maker and her business is called Lakeshore Willows – you can see her full profile here for a start.
Willow is a material used by many in this group and growing it (or buying it), is the first step for many creations and works, which is why I was drawn to this post in the first place.
Let me share this knowledge about how to grow willow for basketry – for first time growers or perhaps you are thinking about growing it later on. Maybe you have been growing willow for years and just need a little inspiration or confirmation that you are doing it the ‘right’ way…
Lene Rasmussen answers some of the questions you may have planting basketry willow for the first time.
- How many do I need to plant for me to have enough for baskets?
Well, that depends on several factors such as the following:
a) Willow variety and growing conditions:
Different willow varieties produce differently. Some have a few rods per plant and some have a lot. Some produce mostly larger rods and some produce mostly shorter rods. Growing conditions vary from location to location and also from year to year. Moisture, temperatures, soils are just some deciding factors.
b) Basket designs:
Different designs require different sizes and amount of weavers.
c) Size of baskets:
Small baskets require smaller weavers and larger baskets larger and/or more weavers.
d) How many baskets annually:
If you have already made your first few baskets, you will have an idea about what you want to do and be able to make decisions based on that. If not, I suggest that you start with 50-100 plants and find out if you want more later.
- How much space do I need in the garden to grow willows for basketry?
Of course that also depends on how many plants you want. In general though, you need much less space than most people think. Basketry willow is planted close to force the willow to grow long, straight rods without side shoots. I plant the willows in the field 50 cm (20″) between the rows and 25 cm (10″) apart in the row.
- Can I plant the willow in a shaded spot?
Willow requires sun to perform well. So to give your willow the absolutely best growing conditions, you need to give them at least half a day of direct sun during summer.
- Does willow require a lot of water?
As the dormant willow cuttings, that you plant, don’t have any roots yet, it is very important that the soil surrounding them stay moist ALL THE TIME during the first growing season. After that they don’t require more watering than anything else in your garden. It is good idea to plant the cuttings in some kind of mulch (see blog post about propagating willow here).
- Which of your willow varieties are best for basketry?
The willow varieties listed here are ALL good for that. However, I do have my favourites and this year we are offering 2 different selections of my best basketry willow as a package. Information about the selections on my website here.
This blog post has been edited slightly from the original post, which you can find here (written by Lene Rasmussen, Lakeshore Willow). And of course a BIG THANKS to Lene for letting me share this post with you all.
To find out more, the book ‘Willow – A Guide to Growing and Harvesting – Plus 20 Beautiful Woven Projects‘ by Jenny Crisp can be recommended. Other books in this field will often also have information about growing willow.
Mathilde Bach Stougaard is the Founder of Weavers around the World with a passion for the arts and her mother is a willow maker on a hobby basis.