Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Living Willow Fence update

The Living Willow Fence was installed April 5-6, 2010 and 7 weeks later is looking fresh and green.
It looks like all rods are rooting and growing, filling in nicely. As the area where I planted it is low and moist (if not wet) unless we are in a period of drought, I haven't had to water it yet and the last couple of weeks of warm and sunny weather really got it going.

I know that as the fence grows and matures it will develop into a beautiful feature in my garden. Look for another update at the end of the summer.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Blue Eyed Grass

Last year - while weeding one of my garden beds - I noticed this grass-like "weed" and decided to leave it there. I wasn't quite sure, but hoped it might be Blue Eyed Grass.

This spring it has increased in volume and for the past week or so it has been blooming. There are several species of this Ontario native, but I believe this is the Common Blue Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium montanum). Each flower only lasts one day, but I have been lucky that this little plant (about 20 cm tall) has produced an abundance of blooms. It belongs to the Iris family and as such - on closer inspection - has the same type of flat, pressed together leaves and when it isn't blooming, it forms a neat little blueish-green tuft.
It hope it will like it here and multiply. 

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Living willow Fence + Hedge = Fedge

Five weeks ago I installed a Living Willow Fence in my garden.
The British expression for this is "Fedge", but "Living Willow Fence" sounds much better in my ears. You could argue that it is a hedge - it has to be trimmed twice annually to keep the pattern visible and to maintain even growth - yet, it has some fence characteristics, as it is woven.

This living willow fence separates my hosta garden/pond area from the front part of the property and will eventually provide some shelter from the wind while forming a decorative divider.
As I like the woven pattern to remain visible, this construction will never become a "privacy fence". If you like the fence to become more dense, you could weave new growth in between the existing pattern (rather than trimming it off) - but in that case, why not just plant a traditional hedge?

When you search for information about a Living Willow Fence or Fedge, you will realize that there are many different ways of making one. Some like it to be very rustic or country like, others like it to be more refined. I am using the technique that has become popular in Denmark (they call it a Belgian fence) and that is shown in the book "Pilehegn" (Willow fences) by Jette Mellgren.

We have a lot of strong winds here, so I decided to make a "double" fence, which makes for a stronger, denser, and more beautiful fence. The same kind of living willow fence can be made with single or even triple rods if desired.

At the ends of the fence a heavier rod is required for strength and I have used a "twisted tree" like the ones we made at the workshops here in April.
If I so desire, I can leave the top to grow as a tree - or I can just trim it to the same height as the fence - how great it is to have options!
In the photo you can see how the rods are woven together and around the end rod. Over time the rods will fuse together at the points where they meet and create a very unique fence, hedge, fedge!
To hold the rods in place now, I have used cable zip ties at the crossings halfway from the ground and at the top. As the willow grows, I will cut off the ties so that they will not hurt the willows.
Different willow varieties will make fences with different appearances - although the frame will be the same - just like different kinds of trees look different - although they all have trunks and crowns. I have used Salix 'Americana' for this fence and the first shoots have been growing for the past couple of weeks. I will post an update later this summer, showing how the living willow fence develops.
A Living Willow Fence can be installed after the ground thaws and until the end of April.
Well in time for next year's planting season, I will have information posted about varieties available for living fences, kits, ordering, shipping, installation by me etc.
Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Eastern Milk Snake

A "snake person" I am not! But I have learned to accept their presence and understand that in many ways they are "a gardener's friend".
Most of the snakes I've seen here are Garter Snakes. You can see how we "rescued" one last winter here and here, but the first one I saw this year is this one. I have identified it as an Eastern Milk snake (but if anyone has any other suggestions, please tell me).

I didn't measure it, but my guess is that he was about 75 cm long and slender. He didn't move around much, probably because it was too cold still  - although the sun was out.