Willows Nursery Walgrave Northampton  NN6  9QA 01536 791371

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Make a Dome

 HOW TO MAKE A LIVING WILLOW DOME FROM LONG WILLOW WHIPS

Instructions are set out below to show how easy it is to make a simple living willow structure.

Please click on the ‘Bower Gallery link on the left to
see more photographs of Bowers/Domes and Playhouses of different sizes and designs.

Work out how wide you want the base of the dome to be and ‘draw’ a circle on the ground. Push 8 of your longest whips into the ground (about 6 to 9 inches is sufficient for them to root - go deeper if you wish).
Space them evenly - leaving an opening for the entrance. Bend over two opposite whips, wrap them around each other where they overlap and tie together. Do the same with opposite pairs.

Use some of the longest whips again to add 2 ‘diagonals’ per gap -  except at the entrance -  planting diagonally encourages denser side growth.
Ideally weave the diagonal whips ‘in front of one vertical and behind the next’ as this makes the structure more rigid -  although tying the whips together will help while you are working especially towards the tips. You could join the ‘diagonals’ to create semicircles -  rather than just leaving them to end in a straight line as on the wigwam.

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For a denser structure add extra diagonals. Where the diagonals go across the entrance simply bend them back around the vertical whip and weave them back into the criss-cross pattern.

This is the same living willow dome a couple of years later in full summer growth. The new growth can be woven into the structure, cut off as it grows, or left for a shaggier wilder appearance, if you prefer, and not trimmed until winter.

You can work out your own design of dome/playhouse/bower and order the number of whips you need, or you can buy one of our dome kits which follow the above approach.

The photographs below show the small playhouse in growth and the standard dome as just planted.

Don’t forget, if you can collect your order, then you can have whips longer than 9 ft which will make a bigger structure !

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