A garden is a living, breathing thing, and nothing adds to its beauty like a woven willow sculpture. You can use inter-twined willows as archways and domes or shapes like people and animals.
Willow archways in your garden can lead you from one area to another, or be destinations of themselves, where you can show your friends this special type of sculpture. You can use pruned willow branches to create your masterpiece, or use rooted plants to keep the sculpture growing.
Why Willow Sculptures?
Willow lends itself especially well to sculpturing because it is pliable and easy to work with. You can interlace the branches, which produces effects like stilt-woven hedges. You can produce actual hedges with willows that provide you with a thicker type screen. These take less labor to maintain.
Woven willow structures are enjoyable to make, but if you use living branches, you will need to maintain them, just as you do with all the other plants in your garden. Gazebos, arches and tunnels are quite striking in appearance, but they require more skill to build.
Build Willow Sculptures into your Landscape Design
You can create a sculpture like a willow gazebo whenever the plants are pliable enough to be woven together. Use a standard gazebo frame to train the willow branches to grow where you want them to. Once that is erected, choose smaller willow trees with flexible stems. You can remove the lower side branches before you start, or later in the procedure.
Plant the willows about four feet apart. Allowing your trees to become established before you weave them will make them easier to work with. If you want to leave space for a table and chairs in your willow gazebo, clear about 6 feet of stem before leaving the lower branches intact.
As each willow reaches the top of your gazebo archway, train central leaders over it and into the middle of your structure, and then cut them back. As the side branches are growing over the structure’s top, you can weave them and tie each in horizontally. As time passes, your willow gazebo will support itself, and you can remove the frame.
image courtesy of rhs.org.uk