Now that the renovation of Apple Cottage is complete and we are already taking bookings, the time has come to start on the garden. My first project was to provide a boundary between the rear of Apple Cottage and its semi detached neighbour, Acorn Cottage. We required something that would give some privacy without overpowering the outdoor seating area, and also fit in with the rural surroundings.
I came up with the idea of a living willow ‘Fedge’, a cross between a fence and a hedge, which seemed to offer the perfect solution. A company called The Willow Bank (www.thewillowbank.com) supply DIY kits which you can order on line, containing everything you need to construct your Fedge, including full instructions (vital for the beginner!).
My willow kit arrived last week, and I was surprised at the length of the material (about ten feet long). I had already prepared the ground, although in fact very little preparation is needed, and no digging is required. The most important factor is weed suppression, so I opted for the weed matting to be included in my DIY pack. The first job was to peg this down, then mark out where the upright willow rods were to be placed, at 25cm intervals. Then with the metal bar provided in the pack, I made the 30cm deep holes for the rods to be planted into.
Once all the uprights were in place and firmed in around the base, the horizontal binder was added. This was weaved in and out of the uprights and secured at each end. I now had the beginnings of my willow structure!
Then the fun bit. Adding the ‘weavers’ which had to be threaded in and out of the uprights and then down into a planting hole in between the main holes. This took a bit of care as it would have been quite easy to get it wrong. I think I will be saying ‘in front, behind, in front’ in my sleep tonight! I worked first from left to right and then right to left along the length of the Fedge, and it was very satisfying to see the pattern emerging as I went.
After standing back and looking to see where adjustments were needed, it was time to tie in the crosses and trim the excess off the ends. Then finally, finishing off the uprights. I made a pattern of three and two rod arches by gently bending and tying them with the flexi ties provided.
The final result is a very pleasing framework which, come springtime will produce an abundance of stem and leaf growth. These young stems will in turn mature to a lovely golden colour next winter.
I am looking forward to seeing my Fedge grow and change through the seasons, and hope it will provide a pleasant backdrop to our guests as they enjoy a glass of something on their private patio at Apple Cottage, Fullers Hill.
Cathy Jefferies, January 2017