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Until the 1950s a willow bed at Cranage supplied willow for the large baskets still used in the Manchester mills and other industries. One winter the crop was cut and bundled to dry, but no one came to collect it. The willow was unwanted, and the willow beds reverted to a patch of scrubby trees.

One of the most important projects that the group has been associated with is the restoration these willow beds to production.As part of a local conservation project, we've joined the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers), for many days of hard labour, clearing, planting and finally cutting and bundling.

A fast growing variety of willow called Flanders Red was planted first to provide a crop which could be used for both basketry and living willow sculptures


.The following year, an area was planted with 2 regional varieties, Dicky Meadows and Lancashire Dicks, along with some Brittany Green and Angustifolia, good basketry willows.

All our willows are now cropping well and we hope to extend the plantings this winter with small areas of different coloured willows.

Page Updated April 2003. Caj