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Hurdle making huge success

Hello! Welcome back to the Medieval Kitchen Garden Blog. There has been a steady rate of progress with our beautiful garden, helped along by our recent course ‘ Making Willow Hurdles’ which was embarked upon by our fabulous Learners at the amazing Musgrove Willows and was an enormous success which resulted in the completion of half the hurdles needed for our project!

Our Learners arrived early on a Saturday morning eager to start the day’s activities, and after a Health and Safety Induction accompanied by lashings of hot tea and biscuits; the tutor Jay took us to the beautiful and airy indoor space which was to house our creative enterprise for the day. Jay kindly gave us a talk about the materials that we were to be using, the differences between the types of willow available at the centre and how it was grown, harvested and stored. He also detailed the kind of tools that would be utilised and incorporated further Health & Safety advice.

The Learners were then taken outside into the grounds and shown how to select the most suitable uprights to provide the internal framework to which our willow was to be woven. To ensure stability and strength of the resulting hurdles, it was necessary for the upright lengths of willow to be slightly stouter than the willow used for weaving. Jay showed us how to assemble the uprights correctly into the jigs which were to provide the scaffold for our hurdles. He demonstrated how to start off the hurdle using a technique that meant finishing the top and bottom of the hurdle with baton was unnecessary, which is more in keeping with the style of hurdles used in medieval gardens.

Furnished with bundles of willow for weaving, the team cheerfully immersed themselves in the task at hand. Jay was on hand to show us how to ensure the hurdle was even in height at either end as it grew vertically, demonstrating the methods of keeping the weave tight without distorting the shape of the hurdle and how to encourage the willow around corners without putting a kink in it. The willow itself was a dream to work with; its supple nature is very forgiving whilst providing an infinitely pleasing form that very quickly takes shape into its intended end product. The rhythmical work of weaving hypnotised everyone into a comfortable silence whilst hands moved nimbly and hurdles grew vertically.

A hearty lunch of hot soup, sandwiches and cake provided us with enough sustenance to complete our afternoon session, by which time the hurdles were really taking shape! On hand for trouble shooting and plenty of encouragement, Jay showed us the method to finish the top of the hurdle and how to tidy up the back of the hurdle in order to give it a ‘finished’ look. A real sense of achievement and elation rippled amongst our hard working and exceptionally skilled Learners, and a fantastic day was enjoyed by all. The day was finished off with an exploration of the site which gave us a feel for the different procedures the willow goes through before it becomes a suitable medium for weaving. What a thoroughly fascinating and hugely enjoyable facet of the Medieval Kitchen Garden this endeavour has been.



Added: 18th March 2017