Thursday, December 22, 2011

December willows

Running late seems to be the thing for me in December. This week I finally made my winter planters - just have to ad some lights now.

Inspired by a customer who bought some willow globes from me for her planters, I have placed globes on top of a bed of greens in my planters at the back door. My customer has added strands of lights to her globes and it looks beautiful at night - I may just do that also, if I can find the time for it before Saturday that is. 

For the front door I have used lots of curly willow and dragon willow branches for a look similar to last year.

So far this winter we have only had a couple of days with snow. When we get the snow, however, it always gets caught by the willow in the field and I end up with large, deep drifts of snow among the willows - snow that doesn't melt till long after all the other snow is gone - and I scramble to get the willow harvested before it goes out of dormancy again and the bark loosens from the rods.
This year we have put a snow fence up hoping that most of the snow - if we get a lot - won't get caught up in the willows and I will be able to harvest earlier.
I could harvest at any time now, but am waiting for some frost so that it isn't so wet and muddy in the field and we can bring out the tractor to transport the willow to the barn.

The colours of the willow in the winter always amazes me, so diverse and vibrant.

Today is the shortest day of the year - we're on our way towards spring!
Wishing all a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Basketry workshops

As mentioned in my last newsletter, I am now offering my first workshops in basketry.

A beginner myself, I want to start with something simple - more rustic than refined - and a couple of people have asked me to teach them how to make the willow garden globe.

There is a bit of basic weaving on that project and it is something that beginners can participate in.

I have scheduled the workshop for Saturday January 14, 2012 - see details under  "Events" at the top - and that workshop is already filled.
A second workshop will be held on Saturday January 21st, 2012.

Living willow workshops for the spring 2012 will be planned and posted on my blog in January. 

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Markets

Thank you to everyone who visited my  booths at The HandMade Market and The Artful Treasures Christmas Show during the past two week-ends.

It was fun to participate and the positive feedback from visitors who purchased items or showed interest in future workshops has been very encouraging.

In addition to the bird feeders I had produced a few baskets, mini hanging planters, willow globes and some Christmas items such as angels, stars, "twisters" (for use in outdoor planters), Christmas trees and wreaths - and it was a pleasure to talk to people about my business.

I am looking forward to participating in future markets - in the meantime: Look out for postings about planned workshops.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

2011 Artful Treasures

The 2011 Artful Treasures Christmas show and sale in Niagara on The Lake is on December 2nd and 3rd from 10 am to 4 pm

The show is at the Pumphouse and held on the same week-end as the Christmas house tour in N-O-T-L

Take a trip to beautiful Niagara on The Lake and come and see me there!

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

2011 Christmas HandMade Market

I have been busy preparing for the market, making


Garden Globes
......and a few other things - come see me there!

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Flexible Willow Soaking Facility

When I was ready to use my first harvest of willow - dried for basketry - a couple of years ago, I decided to start small and my husband made me two pipes for soaking the willow.
The pipes are resting on a wooden frame in our utility room where the temperature is always around 20 degrees Celsius so it is not a problem to soak willow during the winter months. In the summertime I sometimes move the pipes outside in the sun where the temperature gets much higher which speeds up the whole process.
The pipes have screw caps in both ends. I open one end, fill the pipe with bundles to be soaked and cap the pipe again. Each pipe has a 5cm hole for filling it with water using my garden watering can and for emptying it again siphoning with a thin hose.

This has worked well except for the fact that the pipes are too small if I want to soak willow for more than one project. I really regret that I didn't invest in larger pipes as it can be a little tricky to get the bundles in and out when I stuff as much as possible in there.

This summer my resourceful husband made me a new, very flexible soaking facility.

A wooden box that expands as needed. The sides of the box are 8 feet long and the ends are 1, 2 or 4 feet long. The height is 1 foot.
The boards are easily assembled with large bolts.

After the box is assembled, I line it with a double layer of 6 mill plastic. Then I ad just enough water to cover the bottom which makes it easy to smooth out the plastic into all the corners and I can fill it with as much water as needed.

Even though the frame is just 12 inches high, it is amazing how much willow can be soaked in the smallest box.

The willow is weighed down with a few large stones.
Several batches of willow can be soaked without changing the water. It is, however, easy to empty the container for water and afterwards the plastic can easily be cleaned outside on the lawn.

When not in use, the boards require minimal space for storage.

The Danish blog 'Piletossen' has a great, very thorough post about soaking willow. It is written in Danish, but I believe that you can use Google Translate with a decent result.
Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Transplanting your potted willow tree to your garden

As the summer is slowly fading, the colours change and the leaves start to fall, it is time to transplant your potted willow tree to the garden - if you haven't done so yet.

When you first made your tree at our workshop (or bought it) in the spring, the willow rods didn't have any roots yet and you had to leave it in the pot to root and start growing.
It would look like the one in the photo on the left.

When the roots have developed during the summer, you can transplant it to your garden - and by this time of the year you have to do so. First of all the roots may not make it through the winter in the pot above ground, and secondly the woven tree is really 32 willow plants in that little pot - so it really wants to get some more room for its feet.

This morning - still a bit of fog in the air - a woven tree waiting to be planted looks like this one in the photo to the right.
Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Living Willow Fence - one year later.......

Planting a woven Living Willow Fence has to be one of the fastest ways to create a living wall in your garden.
My woven fence was planted in the beginning of April 2010 and you can see what it looked like by the end of May that same year here.
After pruning in the fall - as I want to maintain the visibility of the shape of the fence - this is what it looked like in mid November the first year.

The following photos are from June this year, the fence being one year old.
If you are not interested in showing the weave, but would rather have a dense hedge, you can at this point weave all the long shoots into the structure.
We don't have a lot of trees on our property, but our neighbour does - and from early afternoon on the hedge is in shade. As you can see, it is doing just fine with the hours of sun that it gets daily.
On the North side of the fence, however the growth is more sparse and you can easily see the woven pattern even at this time of the year. To maintain the fence - so that it doesn't get lopsided - it is important to either prune it at least once (better twice) annually or continually weave any new growth into it.
By the end of July this second growing season the look is very full and the fence is ready for another pruning.
Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Willow Bird Feeder Classes

My friend Frances - who has a lot of experience working with willow and who is also the treasurer of the Southwestern Ontario Basketry Guild (SOBG) - had talked me into joining her in teaching members of the SOBG to make willow bird feeders.

At the Chatham location - The Chatham Cultural Centre - we had 7 eager members working on their feeders. 
The craft room at the center is large and equipped with lots of tables, chairs and each student had lots of space - which is required for this project.
Sunday's class was held at one of the member's studio in Thorndale. A beautiful space with everything that a basket (or craft) maker can dream of and the 5 students had a great time weaving and enjoying the beautiful view of the gardens and horses in the field. Thank you Linda for hosting this - and your offerings of coffee, tea, wonderful muffins and making sure we were not hungry as we hit the road again, some of us having several hours of driving ahead of us.
I am sure that everyone will enjoy watching the birds that will be frequenting the feeders in months to come.
Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Additional workshop available

As my planned Living Willow Workshops for Saturdays have been fully booked, I have added one more session for Sunday April 10, 2011 at 10 a.m.

If you are interested in attending, please send me a mail at

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Willow harvest delayed by more snow

Finally last week-end most of the snow had disappeared in the field and we could begin this year's willow harvest.
We managed to harvest about 20% of the rods. Monday and Tuesday I cut a bit more, finished bundeling the rods in the field. By Tuesday  the field was dry enough for me to drive the lawn tractor with my little wagon behind to pick the budles up and take them home.

Then Wednesday morning I woke up to about 10 cm of snow!! And as if that was not enough, it continued on and off all day and by night we have double of that with some drifts as deep as 40 cm - as in the driveway :-)

The next week or so will be cold but sunny and I can only wait..........till it is all gone again - and hope........that I will have time enough to harvest all the willow before it starts growing again.

The bundles look very nice in the snow though and stacked behind the barn waiting to be sorted in bundles with different sizes.

If there is anything good about the snow at this time of the year - yes, they say it is spring and we have changed to "Daylight savings time" - it is the fact that I can let the dogs out without  getting two very dirty, mud dragging boys in the house. Oh well, I tried!!

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Working with living willow - workshop in Toronto at TBG

Toronto Botanical Garden has a full program of lectures, certificate programs and events that are open to the public. If you are a member of TBG, you get discounted rates and some lectures are free.
On TBG's web-site you can find information about all their courses and events and you can download the current program guide.

I am very pleased to be involved in one of the adult courses offered by TBG this spring as I will teach a workshop: Working With Willow on April 16, 2011.

After a short presentation about some of all the things that willow is used for (or has been in the past) we will work on making a Twisted Tree to bring home for the garden.

To register for this event, contact the Toronto Botanical Garden. Registration information can be found here.

I would love to see you there.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Living Willow Workshops Spring 2011

Learn how to work with living willow rods, twisting or weaving them into potted trees that can be transplanted to your garden later this year.

At the workshops you can choose to make a tree where the trunk is twisted like a rope or woven in a "harlequin" pattern similar to the Living Willow Fence.

The trees you make at the workshop are yours to take home.

Join us at one of the scheduled workshops at Lakeshore Willows - please check under the tab "EVENTS" at the top of the page for dates, time and cost. To sign up for a workshop drop me a mail at

Or you can book me for a session with a group of friends - either here at Lakeshore Willows or somewhere else - just contact me for availability etc. 

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Willow Globe for the garden

My friend Frances and I decided to make "Willow Globes" modelled after an image from the net and we were quite happy with the results - considering that we had never worked on structures like this before.

I imagine a few of these in different sizes could ad interest in the garden and I am going to place some among the woven willow trees I have planted in a garden bed for display along with some ornamental grasses.

This one is a big one, but smaller ones could also hang from branches under the canopy of a big tree, swaying in the wind.

If your garden is closed in you can just let a few roll around on the lawn, rolling here and there with the wind. But of course, you can also anchor them at certain desired spots on the lawn or in a flower bed.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Garden Making with Lakeshore Willows

Coming home from "2 weeks in the sun on a beach in Puerto Plata" I couldn't wait to open my spring issue of Garden Making - which was waiting for me, delivered to subscribers the day after we left home.

I subscribed to Garden Making when it was first introduced at Canada Blooms and I have loved every issue.

This time my excitement was different as I knew that Lakeshore Willows is featured in the monthly pages: Gardener's Notebook and I had to find Garden Making in the pile of mail and open it at 2 a.m. just after we arrived home.

My friend Yvonne Cunnington - "Thank you so much for writing this, helping me spread the word about working with willow"

The spring issue went on sale today.

Text and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Willow bird feeder visited

The anticipated snowstorm dumped a pile of snow here today and it has been very busy at the bird feeder.
I have feeders in three different sizes, the biggest one too big for hanging in a rope or chain. In the spring we will place a pole in a flowerbed for mounting one in addition to leaving one on the deck, mounted on a rod placed in a sturdy umbrella-foot.
For now, so that we can enjoy the birds - and they can eat - during winter, we have placed one on top of our fire pit.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New blog: I Danmark er jeg født

For those of you interested - I have just started a new blog: I Danmark er jeg født (I was born in Denmark). I is written in Danish and I intend to communicate everyday happenings and thoughts.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Willow cuttings and dormant rods update

As the season for willow cuttings and dormant, living willow rods is approaching, I have just updated the "tabs" at the top of my blog with information about willow cuttings and living dormant rods (for Living Willow Fences (Fedge), huts, arbors, tunnels etc., and of course also for Living Willow Trees planted in pots or directly in the ground) for sale here at Lakeshore Willows, Wainfleet, Ontario, Canada.

For anyone interested in Living Willow workshops there is an overview of upcoming workshops etc. under the tab "events".

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.