Human + Nature Willow Den

This photo series documents the creation of the Human + Nature Willow Den in Corey Hill Park, Brookline, MA, spring 2018. The installation was commissioned by the Brookline Department of Public Works, Division of Parks and Open Spaces

Model of the den, top view. Copper wire, gardening wire, twist ties, steel mesh, adhesive grass. I based the design on the voronoi pattern found in nature, which gives leaves, bones, and beehives their strength. 4″h x 5″w x 8″L. Scale: 1″ = 1′

Front view of the model

Beautiful salix miyabeana willow rods rooting in a cool, shady hallway. Heartfelt thanks to Sonia and Michael Dodge of the Vermont Willow Nursery for the willow, and for information and advice on planting and working with it.

Site for the Human + Nature Willow Den. I placed the model in the center of the space for reference.

Removing the sod to form the border

Installing weed block mat and markers to position the willow.

Planting and weaving the willow. Each 8′ rod is planted 1′ below grade. As you weave each through the others, a matrix is set up, and the form becomes stronger.  I learned how to plant and weave live willow from master gardener Steve Pickup in this tutorial from his excellent 2006 DVD, Making Living Willow Sculptures

Two hundred feet of 3/8″ polyethylene tubing. In this body of work I incorporate the “natural” and the “synthetic” to disrupt the fantasy that humans and nature are separate

K prepping materials

J making holes for planting the willow.

Visitors to the site pitched in testing the space and watering the willow. I had so many great conversations with people throughout the installation, learning about the history of the neighborhood and the park. These become part of the work.

Newly completed Human + Nature Willow Den, late May 2018. Living willow rods, plastic tubing, gardening ties, fake flowers, mulch

Three weeks later the willow is leafing out!

Six weeks later the willow shoots are about 6″ tall.  Lots of watering at first to keep it healthy. I left a bucket at the site, with a sign asking visitors to water, and they did!

The real and the fake interwoven

Kids and willow activating the space!

Three generations of visitors!