Of willow spiling and golden bunnies

It's wickerwork as you've never seen it, and rabbits that even Mr McGregor would be pleased to see...

Well it’s been a busy week here – pas de change là (no change there) – as my sister would say. We’ve had an intense bout of willow weaving going on, this time it’s been in the stream! Yes, we’ve all been standing in the stream working willow rods into the bank side, let me explain...

Making willow spiling on the streamside at RHS Garden Harlow CarrOur little beck that runs through RHS Garden Harlow Carr is fast flowing and the sides are soft and peaty and therefore subject to erosion. A lovely way of ‘shoring’ these up is to put willow posts in the bank side as uprights, about 20cm (8in) apart, and then we weave the long rods in and out through them with the bases pushed securely into the side.

The process is called willow spiling. These all start to grow (that being the nature of willow) and this in turn knits the side up and holds it all together. Phil Bradley – our nearly-resident willow weaver – works with the  trainees, apprentices and anyone else who’s interested. The day I was in there in the stream in my trusty wellies, the sun was shining, the birds were singing happily and it really felt good to be outside. Seeing the garden from actually in the stream was also a rather good way to view it as I was level with the beds themselves.

Bamboo glade at Harlow CarrElsewhere in the garden something is stirring, well rustling actually, it’s our new bamboo glade down in the arboretum.

The woodland team have been planting more than 40 big bamboos, to demonstate the beauty of these incredible plants: the variegated varieties, the smaller varieties, the dark coloured stems and the bright golden stems.

All of them rustle and sway in the wind – we’ll see how they do in our soil and if they like our conditions. It’s good to showcase these plants and be able to let people see the wide range of varieties on offer in case they are looking for a particular type for their own gardens.

Now, I said I’d update you on the chickens and well - excitement all round as they are due to hatch this Sunday and by the time you read this they will be fluffy little chicks. I am going to try and get a photo for you as they are still at Joe’s house in their incubator. Once they hatch they will think that Joe is their mother and he has to teach them how to drink and eat - that should be fun to watch.

Talking of chickens reminds me that Easter is not far away and we have got a Lindt gold bunny hunt which runs every day from Saturday 28 March to Sunday 12 April. All the youngsters should have lots of fun hopping their way round the garden following the fun family trail and seeing how many golden bunnies they can spot. If they complete it they get a tasty treat at the end. Staff can’t join in – so no tasty treats for us – shucks!

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