ImageThere is a spot in our backyard, right next to the house, which has housed an elaborate weed patch for the past several years while I tried to figure out what to put there. It used to store the kiddie pool and sandbox when my children were small, but at almost 10 and 6 they’ve outgrown those now.  It calls out for something with height, but is too close to the house for a tree.  Both children are still ardent pretenders and I wanted to create something that nurtured that but would grow with them.  This winter I found an image of a living willow structure and decided it would be the perfect upgrade for the space, adding both height and shade as well as endless play possibilities.

Willow dome from willowkits.co.uk

I ordered the willow whips from Dunbar Gardens. They arrived Friday and the structure went together very quickly. These structures are common in England and I found several British tutorials.

First we cleared and measured the space.

ImageThen Finn began creating the structure, inserting whips 6″ into the ground at one foot intervals. Once most of those were placed, he began carefully bending over the whips to create arcs.

We used waxed twine to join each arc.

Once all the whips were joined it was time to create the diagonal supports. Again, each whip was inserted about 6″ into the ground, this time at a diagonal.

Once all the diagonals were placed, the finished structure was ready. Took about 90 minutes from the start and used 44 eight foot willow whips. The remaining six have been put to good use fighting goblin wars. Here’s the finished structure.

In a year or two the growth should cover it completely, creating a nice nook for reading and relaxing. I’ll be putting an outdoor rug inside to help with weeds and comfort as well. Even as just a skeleton, its still lovely to look up from inside.