The theme this year has definitely been 'willow'. In a storm ten years ago we lost all the huge poplar trees alongside the leet. The place looked barren without them. In the same storm, a huge willow was blown over landing on the barn roof. It was all quite devastating. It took a few months to sort out as you can imagine. We sold the poplars to a local furniture maker and had to cut off all the willow branches to extricated it from the barn. We straightened up the giant willow trunk and left it to see if it would grow again. It did, coming back strong and vibrant. I took this as a sign that willow would replace poplar along the leet, and so it has.
I planted willow branches along the river, about one in four took. We also planted silver birch whips at the far end to form a glade. This year was the first time we pollarded the willows properly. I also planted a willow hedge and used the pollarded willow cuts for a low willow fence.
Willow has now become an important part of life at Le Moulin. It forms fences and hedges and is used structurally along the leet instead of traditional poplar. This year is the first year we have once again pollarded the giant willow and hope it will grow back with as much vigour as it did before.