I need to prune my mauve Hibiscus syriacus quite hard each year to keep it reasonably compact and stop it from smothering everything near it in the garden. This year I left this pruning quite late, until I could see the leaves just starting to emerge from the buds. I cut all the shoots down to about 3 leaf buds:
When I had finished, I got ready to pick up the prunings from the lawn, and I noticed something.
The prunings were really thin and straight and had very few forks or twiggy bits attached. I started to think I could do something a bit more creative than just run them through the mulcher. I remembered a magazine article I read years ago about making a Christmas wreath from just these sorts of prunings, plus fresh leaves and flowers. I had liked the idea at the time, but never got around to trying it. Until now.
I took a long piece, curved it into a circle and tied the ends together, wrapping string around to bind them tightly. Then I wound other sticks around one at a time, tucking in the ends. I thought it might be tricky, but it was surprisingly easy, and soon I had a 30cm circle.
This is the foundation of the wreath. Near to Christmas, I'll build it up with pieces of greenery and flowers poked into the gaps, to make a fresh, pretty decoration for the front door. Happy with my first project, I looked around for something to do with the rest of the prunings.
For years, I have been intrigued by the idea of woven "wattle" fences, made of willow, hazel or other pliable wood. Now was my chance to try some weaving on a small scale. Inspired, I wondered where I could erect such a thing, and saw the plant tub that I said needed some trellis behind it to hide my rubbish bins. The perfect site!
I poked some of the largest twigs into the soil in the back of the tub and started weaving. I discovered two things almost at once:
1) It's surprisingly easy to lose track of whether you should be weaving in front of that upright or behind it (or maybe that's just me).
2) I was using what seemed like an enormous number of twigs to create a rather small amount of trellis.
I could see I was going to run out before the job was done, but I kept going just to see how it turned out.
It's not pretty, I know. It's wonky and the ends are messy and it doesn't really do the job, but I'm proud. This is my first garden weaving and I can see the potential. I don't mind that it's a bit crooked and uneven, but for my next project I'm planning to use thicker sticks and make the whole thing a bit more stable, and also bigger!
Meanwhile, I'll leave my creation in place for a while, and enjoy the evidence that I've finally tried an ancient craft that has interested me for so long.