Friday, 16 May 2014

Why I love Willow!

Taken in April 2014
6 years ago we were lucky to have 3 education officers based at a nearby park who came along one morning to build 3 willow dens in the playground. I had seen how great willow was for showing the seasonal changes from our then weekly visits to the woodland classroom in the park but I honestly don't think I ever really foresaw how great these 3 dens would prove to be.

Over the past 6 years they have never ceased to amaze me each spring when the new leaves grow & I look forward to coming back in August to see how wild they have become. I always remember the first spring they got their leaves many parents were amazed - they thought they were just ornamental stick dens not living ones. And one August when we returned to school we were devastated to discover the groundsmen from the education board had been in over the summer & chopped all the lovely lush foliage right back to the bare sticks. I have since banned them from my part of the school grounds & we try to maintain them ourselves - this year we decided to link 2 of the dens to each other with a canopy between the two.
April 2014

October 2013
This year we were lucky enough to have Martin Besford from Highway Farm Activity Centre over for a visit in March to make us a mud kitchen & he also volunteered (or perhaps I may have suggested it) to help us tame our willow ready for new spring growth. he showed us how to trim it right back & how to weave it properly to allow for new growth, he also persuaded one of the education officers at another woodland site we use to give us loads of new willow to plant along the fence above the nursery playground & in Bear Woods. They also made us a little den up there too.
February 2014 before Martin showed us how to trim them properly.

Sarah (our NVQ student) & Peter (the education officer) making a new willow den in Bear Woods.
Over the past few weeks the willow has gained so much new foliage & at the moment can best be described as being fluffy! I have found it very therapeutic to spend a couple of minutes each week when we are in Bear Woods weaving some of the big willow trees together to make lots of little arches along the fence.
The willow archway that marks the entrance to Bear Woods.
May 2014
The new willow arch & window Martin created in about 20 minutes.
I love them around this time of year when the children really begin to use them as little houses & they love being 'invisible' from adult eyes when they are inside them.
For the past 2 years when we have cut back the willow we have passed on the cuttings to other schools & parents so they can plant their own willow creations too.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, they are looking at their best right now.

  2. The wonder and limitless uses of nature - these are wonderful living structures that the children will never tire of using. They are such a beautiful resource and must provide the children with so much fun learning. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

    1. Thank-you for spurring me on to write a suitable post! They are one of the best 'installations' a playground can have, much better than any expensive slides etc. thanks for hosting another amazing link up too.

  3. Anonymous18 May, 2014

    Thats so nice! An arc! Amazing structure! I have been in this country for a few years and yet it is only now that I am appreciating the seasons. I am so amaze of how nature changes when the season change =) #countrykids

    1. I think we sometimes take the seasons for granted but things like willow certainly allow us to see the differences.