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21 March 2009 Last Updated on 24 September 2009 Sally Pemberton

Spelthorne tree wardens held two willow coppicing days in January and February, the first of which included a living willow construction workshop given by Sarah Garcia – . She made a living willow tunnel at Paxmead, the guide camp opposite the willow field where we also had lunch provided by me (Sally) and Gill Wilkinson who runs Paxmead. The weather was a bit grim so it was nice to have somewhere warm and dry to go.

The second coppicing session was well attended, mostly by the Egham and Staines Conservation Volunteers, and a substantial number of willow stems were cut and made into bundles, ostensibly to make faggots or spilings, the currently preferred method of riverbank strengthening. (Willow was traditionally grown on Pharoah’s Island nearby for this purpose).

Since only 3 tree wardens were at the first session, and 2 at the second, you may be wondering what this is doing on a tree wardens website. Well, willows are trees even if they are coppiced, and it may be that tree wardens elsewhere can make use of the stems in some way, or pass on information to any schools or community projects they know of.

At  the workshop the participants were mostly from schools, so the results were more far reaching – ie hundreds of children getting outside, seeing instant greenery and having fun.

The other benefit of the willow plantation is that now that the cows have gone, it means that only half the 89 acre site of the Ranges is going to be used for car boot sales. The half by the Thames where the willow is, together with the trees Tarmac planted after their gravel extraction, is altogether more wildlife friendly.

Willow stems for weaving                                      Willow tunnel at Paxmead

Coppicing willow



Willowy Ways - 24th March 2009

Willow for weaving (Sally Pemberton) Willow tunnel at Paxmead (Sally Pemberton) Coppicing willow (Sally Pemberton)