The Sallie Garden

Rose Cottage, Station Road, Old Leake, Boston, Lincolnshire, PE22 9RF Biography

I've been learning to make baskets and other willow and rush items since 2006. My teachers have included Colin Manthorpe, Susie Mulligan, Adrian Charlton, Mary Butcher, Felicity Irons, Jennie Crisp, Eddie Glew, Jennie Pearce, Dominic Parette, Rachel Evans, Sue Kirk.

I want to make useful and beautiful artifacts and try my hand at original items whilst practicing traditional and contemporary skills.

The central theme of my pursuit of basketry is to see and really look at the willow and rush or flag growing in the immediate environment and to appreciate its beauty and usefulness as a part of the biodiversity of the landscape here in Lincolnshire. The act of turning the living willow into bundles of willow whips gives meaning to the useful pursuit of  human endeavour  AND it makes me happy, calm, thoughtful, occupied and more alive. The smell of fresh willow and willow bark is reviving. On a hot early summer's day, sitting under a shady tree stripping willow for white willow and willow bark is the ideal occupation for a restful afternoon.

Nevertheless, the next steps are more taxing. Making willow baskets and products is not always easy. My sallie garden is young, most of it under 5 years old. The soil is strong clay and the willow grows strong in it. I cut some of the taller 7 foot wands in July because they have started to branch. I get willow bark from these and skein some of the larger rods. The rest  grow on and are harvested in the winter.

To date  much of the willow in not fine AND while the commercial growers are able to product straight and even width stems I find my willow might be the same length but it is not always the same thickness.As the stools and pollards mature this might change, I hope.

So making a basket from willow involves two grading steps, length and thickness. While I am trying to practice more skills, I find myself caught in a tension between that  practice and what the willow is telling me I can make with it. I'm learning to look and observe and consider much more before I make.

  • Basketry
  • Garden Structures
  • Hedgerow
  • Natural Fibres
  • Rush (Basketry)
  • Skeined Willow (Basketry)
  • Traditional
  • Willow (Basketry)