The Whittondean Willow Plot Story

In the late spring of 2016 Northumbria Basketry Group received a notice relating to the termination of the contract for the willow plot at Whitton. This prompted a search for a suitable nearby location for an alternative plot. Within a matter of weeks one was found at Whittondean just over a kilometre from Whitton. The site chosen overlooks the Whitton Burn and has a fine south facing aspect. It measures 60 metres by 10 metres, with 50 metres by 10 metres allocated for growing willow. The remaining area is to be used as a working area for sorting and storing the willow output from the plot. The grass was cut at the site in late July followed by the erection of fencing to secure the site. At the same time the woven plastic mulch was laid over the whole site. Surfacing material was added to the working area in August and the site secured with rabbit proof netting in October. In mid-December work started on planting the willow cuttings. With the benefit of a relatively mild winter the majority of the cuttings were planted by the end of February. The planting of the shelter belt at the western end of the plot was completed on the 1st of April. The willow shelter was transferred from Whitton on a trailer and placed on site by a JCB type machine on the 8th of March. The next day the willow screens were added and the stock of willow bundles housed in the shelter. These had been stored temporarily in the living willow dome at Whitton to facilitate the moving of the shelter. Approximately 4,500 cuttings have been planted at the site. The varieties planted are: Norbury, Dicky Meadows, Bleu Bleu, Green Dicks, Dark Dicks, Calliantha, Black Maul, Flanders Red, Nicholsonii Purpurescens, Grisette de Falaise and Lassiandra. The Swedish biomass varieties ULV and ORM have been planted at the western end of the site to form a wind break from the prevailing wind. It is intended to take images at regular intervals to provide a visual record of progress at the site.

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