Living willow dome – A good example of ecotherapy!

December 3, 2011

in Making natural Christmas wreaths, Nature, health and well being

All my articles, videos and work are funded by my teaching and sales of award winning bumblebee nest boxessolitary bee boxes,  and wormeries.

Making natural Christmas wreathes from willow etc, has proved to be very popular with 100’s people visiting the pages on this web site. This reminded me that some years ago, whilst teaching special needs students at Gorse Covet Day Centre, Warrington, I wanted to actively involve them in a practical exercise that had benefits for them whilst giving them somewhere peaceful and relaxing to sit and rest. With their help, we built this from living willow. Hard work sometimes, but my students loved every minute of it! I hope it inspires some people to do something similar……

Living willow dome made by people with special needs

We made a long curved tunnel ( left side of photograph) which was designed to bend and curve a little and was made narrow and low so that people had to duck slightly and could feel the leaves against their faces. Thus people who had poor eyesight could sense and feel that there was something they were walking inside, something different as they felt their way moving forward into the large dome.

Living willow dome large enough to put chairs inside and chill out listening to the rustle of the leaves!

Beside being able to sit in the dome, it provided shelter from the hot midday sun and being alive the transpiration of the leaves kept it cooler on the inside than the outside. The wood chip mulch help the withies to grow and laid inside the dome on the floor also helped to keep the temperature cool inside as it remind slightly damp.

Gorse Covert Day Centre is situated on an industrial estate in Birchwood in a well equipped building for which Warrington Borough Council currently provides a service for 112 service users, of whom 40 remain in the centre throughout the day and are, presently, unable to access activities in community settings. The remaining 72 service users regularly access services outside the day centre with staff support.

The willow withies were kindly donated by the Mersey Forest.

If you would like something similar for your school gardens or anywhere else for that matter, contact me 01925 452819/mob 0787 – 358 6685

Or if you would like to grow your own willow from cuttings or to make your own wreaths/domes etc., contact Far Fields Willow 0151 638 6299

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

David Cumplen December 4, 2011 at 10:47 am

Hi George,
Totally love this very simple and practical concept and ideal also for children’s nurseries and elderly peoples homes.
Thank you for informing me.
Kind regards,


nurturingnature December 4, 2011 at 11:02 am

Hi David, yes it is great to see people using these willow domes. I used to have one at my last house and slept under it! I hope your bumblebee lawn has seeded OK! I will be doing some of my own lawn next year! Best wishes, George


jackie Bush December 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm

hiya George,
How clever, the grandchildren would love itx


nurturingnature December 5, 2011 at 7:47 pm

HI Jackie, So did my children!! We slept out under one we made together in the garden !! x


Vivienne Downes January 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Hi ! I wonder what kind of willow withies you used. I’ve got a huge overgrown weeping willow which I’ll have to get trimmed soon. Do you know if the off-cuts would be suitable for creating my own living dome for my Grandson?
Also, could i use them to make a living fence, in place of an overgrown privet hedge?


nurturingnature January 15, 2012 at 8:31 am

Good morning, I used osier. The tree you suggest would not really be up to it. I will email you. Kind regards, George


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