Early this morning Mr. D took off for 5 days of golf in Arizona. It's been a mild winter, hardly any snow. Naturally, the morning he leaves the snow began falling and blowing. It's also the morning of "Donuts with Dad" at the ol' PS, and the boys seemed despondent not to have a special man in their life attend. Dad en route to his golf trip, one grandpa too far away, another grandpa too ill (plus the roads are crap), the neighborhood surrogate grandpa in Florida. Team Testosterone couldn't agree among themselves on who to invite, so this morning we did "Donuts with Dad at Rico's with Mom." I treated them to breakfast and brought them 45 minutes late to school so they missed most of the event. I generally don't promote skipping school, but in this case I think we made the right call.
Yesterday I mentioned a new project around here. As you know, I'm kind of a nut about my gardens and I really want some fencing--more to add structure than for any other purpose. Among my favorite gardens in the Whole Wide World is Anne Hathaway's garden in Stratford-on-Avon, England. It's rustic and charming, full of pretty flowers and practical vegetables and a small orchard. Sweet little paths wind through the property and occasional benches and trellises provide cozy spots for reading a book or watching the birds.
I've studied many books about garden design to try to figure out how to flesh out the bare bones of my own garden. I keep coming back to those English Cottage Gardens, and even with my informal styles, I need some fencing. I've been hankering for the white picket kind of fence, but I have a lot of garden to fence around, so the price tag on such a project would be substantial.
I kicked around the idea of planting hedgerows, but they take eons to grow, and while I think I may plant some, I want more immediate gratification. Like the kind that happens this summer.
And then I remembered (reminded by Jen on the Edge's recent post) how Anne Hathway's garden was framed out by very rustic-looking fencing and edging. Since Medieval times, gardeners have constructed wattle fences to provide structure, shelter and support for their plants.
I did some research and learned that to build a wattle you need a lot of "green" sticks, preferably live willows since they are flexible, durable, straight and don't have too many excess branches to clip off. As it happens, we have a prodigious amount of willows growing on our property. To build a wattle you need sturdy branches for posts. As it happens, we have enough fallen branches to heat an entire European village for two years.
So, the materials to build a wattle are plentiful and free. I can build any size of wattle to suit my needs. All I need is time--to gather the sticks and branches and pound/weave/shove/tie them all together. We've hardly any snow on the ground and there aren't any bugs or stinging nettle at this time of year, so yesterday I began Project Wattle. Armed with a pruner, Jax and I attacked a berm of willows and dragged several loads up to the garden. Then we scavenged the woods and found a good supply of sturdy, straight branches and logs measuring at least 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
For the next month or so I'll continue to cut willows and find fallen trees for posts. It's great exercise tromping around back in the woods and dragging loads back up to the house. Then, when the ground thaws, I'll be ready to pound in my stakes and begin weaving the willows between them.
Project Wattle. It's the perfect solution for this dry winter weather. Besides, I've always wanted to say "I'm going to get all Medieval on your asses" in a meaningful way, so now I can while I wield my pruner at those willows encroaching on our fields. Plus it's a unique conversation starter--"What've you been up to this winter?" "Me? Oh, I'm building a wattle."