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Dear Janet and Steven,
We love the wattle fences you showed in your presentation! Where can we get wattle? - V.B.-
You can purchase ready-made wattle sections -- hurdles (search wattle hurdles on the Internet) -- but we make them. Here's how.
Lengths of fresh flexible wood such as 2 year old canes removed from redtwig dogwood, Japanese kerria or shrub willow.
Most of the canes we use to weave
wattle at our Detroit Zoo
Adopt-a-Garden come from pruning
we do at the zoo and other sites, or
volunteers' own gardens. This yellow
willow came by way of a volunteer.
It's probably a variety of white
Salix alba vitellina 'Britzensis.'
Remove lowest and excess branches. Some side branches on the upper portion of the
wand can be helpful. The wand tip and its branches can be bunched and woven as one,
giving an otherwise thin whip the strength of multi-strand cable.
Wands should be about 2-1/2 times as long as your desired fence height; e.g. 4-5 feet
long to create a fence 2 feet tall.
You will need 3 or 4 wands per linear foot of fencing.
Cut a stout branch to make a stake 8-12 inches longer than the fence will be tall.
Pound or push that stake into the ground at your starting point. Position it straight up and down; i.e. perpendicular to the plane of the ground.
Below: One of the things we love about our wattle at he Detroit Zoo is its organic flow. Sections vary in detail but because we all use the same wood and the same base pattern, the sections flow together. Here, volunteers weave golden willow: from left, Phil Gigliotti, Nora Gessert and Kathy O'Gorman, Lynn McAllister and Mary Wente-Lindsay.
Below: Each person or pair in our "zoo crew" weaves one section and joins to the next by weaving their final uprights into the other's lattice. Here are Nora Gessert and Kathy O'Gorman making the connection between their work on the right and Phil Gigliotti's (left). Nora (in white) stands at the junction.
Wattle evolves every time it's made. This fence shown in "Wattle redtwig wanted..." was made to the Ziggy Zoo pattern, but then the look changed a bit when weavers added a few leftover pieces as lower-level hoops.
Wattle can stake or support as well as fence.
Every wattle project is as unique as the person doing the weaving and the material at hand. We handed some golden willow canes to Virginia Bergin and Judy Storrs and said, "Make some supports for these willows -- you can probably weave these side branches around the plants and use canes across the top..."
A few minutes later, when another volunteer asked what they were up to, they replied as every wattle weaver through the ages might say, "We don't really know, we're making it up as we go along!"