One of our key focuses on the Skyline at the moment is a bit of a revamp in the Woodland Play Area. To our visitors’ delight, we have finally gotten the much loved and well-missed swing fixed and back in action and the reconstruction of the seesaw is in process.
We have talked about other ways of jazzing up the Play Area to refresh the space a little and decided, amongst other things, to try to create some wicker woodland creatures to hang or mount decoratively amongst the trees around the winding woodland walk.
And so, after slogging away at our path and step building on Little Solsbury Hill last week (see In pictures: Path and step building at Little Solsbury Hill), most of the rangers spent a much more relaxed day last Friday harvesting willow coppice from around the serpentine pond at Prior Park and then hanging out together in the sunny yard chatting and muddling our way through a self-taught session learning how to weave wicker creatures.
Alice the gardener and one of the garden volunteers, Clare, have had some experience with weaving willow before – Alice’s giant yellow meadow ant can be seen guarding the gated entrance to Prior Park from Rainbow Wood Fields at the top of the Priory path – and so they were able to provide us with some guidance and ideas. Otherwise, we mostly just played about with the willow, exploring the ways in which it can be used and discovering its limitations.
It was a surprisingly successful first attempt at making wicker animals. I think we all pretty much just started off by making random shapes with the willow and then trying to work out what we could turn them into. We ended up with some fantastic pieces, all demonstrating very different styles and techniques and in varying degrees of completion; a ladybird, a couple of butterflies, a snail, and the beginnings of a wasp of my own creation.
I have since spent my spare moments at the yard continuing to work on my wasp, giving it wings and antennae and providing it with more structural stability – I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with how they’ve all turned out. I really hope we get time to make more as I think they will add a lot to the aesthetics of the Woodland Play Area.