What's happening at Musgrove Willows


At long last some lovely warm weather, even if todays course students are complaining its a bit too warm!

The last few months have been difficult with the weather keeping us on our toes. Thankfully, we managed to finish cutting and we have planted another 5 acres at Westonzoyland by hand in the last few weeks, this weather should give them a good start now.

Mike and Jack have also been busy with the maintenance of the willow beds ready for the new crop to start growing.

Trimming the withy bed.

 The white willow season is almost upon us and we need to bring in all the harvested willow, so we are hoping it stays dry for a while yet. Seems like the boys are going to be very busy for the next few months.
Amanda and I have  been busy with school visits and corporate events here too but we were also lucky enough to have a work experience student Lauren with us over the past week. She has been a great help and has gained office experience, participated in a corporate workshop and helped with the tourism side of our business, taking people on tours around the farm and explaining what we do here at Musgrove Willows.

Keep smiling Lauren and Amanda , it helps! : )

Lauren has even said she’d like to come back in the summer. She must be mad! 

We still have a few places left on the morning session of our Saxons Day workshop on June 1st. so if you are looking to do something a bit different over the half term holiday why not come along with the children and see how things were in the day of the Saxons.

Pre- Booking is essential so please ring Ellen or Amanda on 01278 691105 or 01278 699162 to book your space. We look forward to seeing you.

Great fun for the kids but not so good for cutting and drying willow.  I work in the office at Musgroves and have had to walk to work today in 4inches of snow which is unheard of for Westonzoyland! Thank goodness I am only 10 minuets away. The snow has made the farm look so pretty and we have been out taking photo’s. Mike and Jack Musgrove are in the boiling shed which although is warm by the boiler, is cold and wet once you step away. I dont envy them hauling the wet willow out of the boiler today. Ellen and I are tucked up nice and warm in the office and the other guys are in the sorting sheds with the big heaters going and all the doors shut tight. We are hoping TNT will make it down the lane for our deliveries today but who knows! Strangely, I am looking forward to my slippery walk home tonight-I hope I make it in one piece.

Amanda

I must have jinxed us when I mentioned all the rain the last time I blogged! Is that a word? We can’t find some of our willow beds at the moment, we know where they are but they are completely submerged at Hay Moor and Curry Moor yet again. So we won’t be cutting willow up there for a long while until it dries out!  

So can you spot our withy bed!  Clue… ………………………..High Hedge.  

Flooded willow fields at Curry Moor

  

The withy bed is just to the right somewhere beyond the high hedge.  

Thankfully we don’t have all our withy beds in one ‘basket’ (sorry!, place) and we can at least cut willow on some of the other 60 acres we have dotted about the Levels and Moors.  

At this time of year , we are busy cutting, sorting and getting Living Willow orders ready. So if you are interested in a Living Willow Structure for a garden, school or public space, do get in touch.  

We have some tried and tested, very suitable varieties that are hardy, easy to plant and disease resistant. If you are unsure and need more information or have any queries or need advice on Living Willow then do give me a call and I will guide you to the most suitable willow for your requirements. The best time to plant your Living Willow structure is in the New Year from late January onwards until April, weather conditions permitting. Don’t plant in the snow or frost though, we are happy to hold your order and despatch when you are ready to plant.   

 An established living willow structure will need to be trimmed and maintained during these next few months while the structure is dormant so that you get the most out of your living willow feature. This will  help it to continue to flourish, keep its shape but not get too overgrown and unruly.  

We also can supply willow cuttings or setts,  as we call them , for you to plant your own willow bed. Again we can advise on the best willows suitable for the  particular project that you have in mind, whether it is for basketry or for fuel production in the longer term. Out of the 60 different varieties that we grow here at Musgrove Willows I’m sure we will find one that is suitable for you. Just incase I don’t blog again soon…  

Seasons Wishes from the team here at Musgrove Willows  

 and we hope that 2010 will be a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful one for all.  

   

Yes, Winter hs certainly arrived with howling wind and rain just when Bridgwater Carnival kicks off, sadly!

Our greatest problem here at Musgrove Willows is , as with all farmers, competing with Mother Nature in time to cut our crop over the winter months.

Some days it rains so much, like today! , that we think it will never stop and we may be flooded out of some of our withy beds again.

Its a little early to say that yet, thankfully, but the change in temperature and the gusting winds mean that the leaf has falled off some of our willow varieties and we can at last start cutting some of the new crop in between the rain!

Our Living Willow kits are extremely popular , so if you are looking for a new idea for the garden or a children’s play area, why not consider a Living Willow Kit.

We thought we would do something a little bit different this week and a bit of fun for the children and the many adults that visit us here.  So we decided we were going to build a willow maze!

Not quite a big or as complicated as the one at Longleat but nevertheless an exciting project for us to build and one we hope you will find a little bit challenging to complete.  As it is day 1 of the big build,  we have completed the outer perimeter and have marked out all our internal passageways.

Not for your eyes that one yet!  

So far we have used over 30 wads of steamed hurdle willow just for the outside. Thats without the endless number of posts and scaffholding poles for added strength to weave around. Next we will be weaving the walls of the passageways , if the rain holds off we may get it finished this week, so keep your fingers crossed for a bit of dry weather.

Westonzoyland Year 6 pupils day out.
Westonzoyland Year 6 pupils day out.

As it was our daughter’s last year at Westonzoyland Primary School and we were taking part in Somerset Art Week, we thought it would be a good idea to invite her teachers and friends to weave insects and what ever they liked related to that from willow as an end of year project.  The school unfortunately a few years ago suffered an incident in which much of the past exhibits children had made were destroyed, so we thought after SAW weeks the school could have them back to exhibit and keep. The whole day was a great success but tiring!  They even enjoyed feeding the animals and having a run around outside as for once the sun was shining! 

We have received some fantastic thank you letters from  all the children

and from the Acting Headteacher Mrs Harris, who was delighted the children had an experience they nor the school will forget. 

The children’s letters are available to see in our Display area , their willow insects  will be on view during Somerset Arts Week  September 19th to October 4th , why not come along and have a look for yourselves, we would love to see you. 

 Not forgetting you can also feed the animals and run around in the sun if it is ever likely to shine!!

Phew, this last week has been extremely busy in the Musgrove Willows calender and it doesn’t look like slowing down any just yet.

Not only have we had a really successful Willow Sculpture workshop led by Sarah Webb on Wednesday 1st July , (you must take a look at the pictures, fantastic ), but we also had a visit from Yeovil Young Farmers , who wanted to learn more about willow growing and weaving. They  ended up with some extremely funny looking fish!

On Thursday, Musgrove Willows had a day trip out to Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet. The gardens, first created by Earnest Jardine in the 1800’s,  have been beautifully restored and feature a Grade 11 listed viaduct as a most impressive backdrop. Owned now by Roger Saul,  founder of the Mulberry label, the gardens have been opened  to the public for all to enjoy. To visit the gardens or to find out more about Kilver court and all that they offer  click on www.kilvercourt.com.  We had a very successsful day with much interest in our workshops and willow garden plant climbers and structures.

Yet more, on Saturday James was at Chilton Cantelo School in Yeovil for their Summer Fete and  I attended our village event, Westonzoyland’s Heritage Day at St Mary’s church. Extremely hot , busy,  and good fun. children tried their hand at Willow weaving and we made lots of willow fish, swords and sunflowers.

willow sculpture participant

willow sculpture participant

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willow plant climber

Sculpture course student and her duck

Pigs day out at Kilver Court
Pigs day out at Kilver Court

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