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.
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.