– written by Joanna Houseman
We had great fun yesterday morning planting willow in the Forest Garden at Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn. We were lucky enough to have lots of willow donated to us from Cae Bodfach Community Forest Garden in Llanfyllin. We began by putting down about 12 metres of membrane over the grass to kill off the grass and give the willow a chance to grow without competition.
Mat cut the willow whips into 30cm plugs (photo 2) and we planted each one about 20cms deep after watering the hole we had made in the ground.
Hopefully the membrane won’t get blown away in the wind. We secured it with tent pegs and weighed it down with stones to make sure!
Once this willow is established we will be treating it as a coppice so that we can harvest what grows for future projects for example fencing, basket weaving and maybe some living structures in the garden. We also planted a couple of willow plugs separately so that we can leave them to grow into full size willow trees and we planted some other plugs elsewhere as a test to see the difference of how they grow without the help of the membrane to suppress the grass.
We were also given a lot of Epimedium (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epimedium) plants as ground cover. We are trying out many different plants to suppress the growth of the grass in between the trees as they grow. So we planted these in between the willow coppice and the fruit trees. We’ll see how far they spread!
We’re really enjoying spending time on this project and watching it develop. We’ll be meeting there again soon to plant some more herbs and work on the pathways again. Here’s hoping we get the help of some of the students as well!