Summer rushes

The summer materials are growing fast. Here are some harvests and experiments made over the last few weeks…

One handful of Common Rush Juncus effusus in the Lomond Hills

Rushes stripped down and left to dry…

Experimental string made with rushes and yarn waste…

Rosebay willowherb is just about ready for harvest. It smells lovely…

Willowherb string, willow bark and elm bark collected for a project.

More about these and the experimental yarn string in a future post!

Tay Willow

Tay willow

Last Friday we explored a path along the River Tay looking for signs of the famous beavers, and yes, we did find some sharp-toothed twig snippage. I collected a couple of willow sticks and stripped the bark for a look at the beavers’ favourite food. The Spring wood is sappy and the bark peels off easily. I was astonished by the colour of the inner bark. Will it stay this amazing lime-green as it dries out?

The bark smells sweet but it doesn’t taste so good. I made a length of cordage and tried biting off the loose ends, they were pretty bitter. Finished the tidy-up with scissors!

Goosegrass rope

Goosegrass rope

I made a short length of rope to carry home these roadside twigs. This goosegrass was brittle and much more fragile than than my first sample, maybe more weathered by frost and wind. The twigs will make a colourful mini-basket. My conscience is clear about cutting them, they were growing out into the road, a danger to cyclists and passing cars 🙂

Goosegrass (what do you call it?)


Goosegrass, cleavers, sticky willie, Galium aparine, bedstraw.

I saw it on the roadside hedge, thought “that stuff is pretty tough when you’re trying to pull it off plants in the garden…”

The dried stems were more than six feet long and easy to pull off the hawthorn. Dozens of adhesive little seeds tranferred themselves to my hat. A car passed and I didn’t catch the driver’s eye.

I walked on up the road, twisting and turning the straw into rope. I tested it for strength and it was good. Ten feet of goosegrass rope to play with!

I kept it for a few days before deciding what to do with it, then stitched this basket with beeswaxed linen thread.

goosegrass basket

I left the last strands of straw free. I like the ‘wind in its hair’ effect.

The basket has a sweet scent, like a warm meadow.