Building of our Willow Hut

The building of our willow hut dates back to early 2010. In the autumn before a storm had uprooted a lot of trees around Sligo. One of them, a massive willow tree was found stranded at Cartron by Michelle, a mother of children in the school.

We collected a large number of branches of the tree and brought them to the school where we put them into the old sand-pit beside the garden.

There they were left during the winter2009/10. In spring the branches had started to grow little leaves which indicated that there were roots developing under ground.

When the weather was a bit more pleasant in April then Tori, Robin and Robert went to work. The plan was to dig out a circular space between the old sand-pit and the car park and plant the willows in close distances to each other so that they would grow into a hut-like circle of trees. This here is the story of how that was done:

At the very start we brought out the tools that we needed. We also went to the collection of stones that we had from earlier years. These stones all had a flat top side. We planned on using them to finish the surface of the hut. We measured the area that the stones could cover.

  

Then we consulted our maths book to be sure that we get the size of the circle for the willow right. It should be as big as possible, but not bigger than the space that could be covered by the stones that we had. We found that:

Then we did our mental maths, using the number pi for our calculations.

  

Next we measured the area for the circle that we were going to dig out. We put in markers, pegs to give us a direction for digging.

  

Then we put a grass sod to the kerb so that we could push the wheelbarrow over it without too much trouble …

… and we brought the stones for the surfacing of the hut to the spot where we needed them later.

  

When all stones were moved we cut out the outer circle of the area that we had marked earlier. The grass sods that we took out were piled up just outside the circle area, but in reach for later when we would need them to fill up around the willow sticks again.

    

The digging was hard work …

  

… but at the same time it was great fun.

We found that we could play around with the shapes while taking the grass out and this is what we came up with:

  

  

  

  

When the circle was eventually free of grass and the soil lay blank we turned to the willow sticks. We pulled them carefully out of the sand and put them beside each other on the grass so that we could see for each of them how big it was and how big the roots on it were.

   Here is an impression of the roots that had developed on the sticks:

  
Having the sticks sorted by size and root development we now went on to put them into the soil at the outside of the circle.

  

  

We also filled up the space around the sticks with soil. For this purpose we pushed soil from the inside of the circle to the outside so that the sticks got a solid hold.


When the willow sticks were sufficiently grounded we brought sand in with the wheelbarrow. The sand was then evenly distributed with the rake over the entire area of the circle.

  

Now we took the grass sods that we had cut out earlier and started covering the willow sticks as tight as possible with them from the outside of the circle.

In this picture it is also possible to see how we measured the depth of the sticks in the ground so that the sprouts that had come up on the branches already were just about over ground level.

At this stage the shape of the finished project was already quite visible. We now brought in the stones that we had put on the grass earlier into the circle and laid them out beside each other in the sand. In this manner we built an even surface inside the ring of willow.

  

Then we gave the ground the final touch with a hand brush.

And there it was, the willow hut finished. All the rest would be done by nature itself. The willow would grow and hopefully form a dense ring that would have a hut inside.

  

The whole project took us a full school day. But then, five hours work is not that long for such a result.

And this is how it looks in October 2013:

  

The willlow has grown a lot over the last three years and when you are inside the hut you have already a closed cover of leafs as a roof over you: