With this in mind, planning went underway for the creation of a living Willow Dome, a sustainable green area, which could be used for lessons and play times as well as for quiet reflection.
Lots of helpers were involved in setting this up and were amazed at the intricacies of creating the dome. Willow whips, which were about one or two years old, were sourced so we had lengths of about of about 2 metres to form the main frame of the dome. Once the main frame was in place, lots of classes were involved in building the structure over a few days- it was exciting seeing it slowly being created!
We realised that was just the start! Over the past 6 months, we have all been involved in keeping the willow alive and making sure it has water and the love and care it needs to survive and thrive. We learned how our school has a borewell, 60m below the ground, provides a totally sustainable source of water to keep our all our plants at school flourishing. Mr Johnson, our Head Groundman, looked after our dome over the summer holidays, creating an irrigation system of perforated pipe in a circle around the base of the dome. To water the dome, he fills a large water bowser from the borewell and then connects it with a hose so that our irrigation system supplies the dome with water. The dome needed 400l of water every 2 weeks to keep it growing over the summer months.
All the watering paid off. When we saw leaves sprouting early in the autumn term, it was a real highlight as we knew everyone’s efforts were making a difference! Maintenance continues and now, any new shoots are weaved into the structure creating the leafy, living dome you can see in our pictures.
To make it a special area, we also organised wooden seating. The stumps are made from a felled oak tree from our parish woodland site, and the seats are made from recycled log roll fencing from our Forest School.
We created our own kindness rocks and placed them around the edges of the willow dome to remind everyone to always be kind in the spirit of ‘togetherness’. We’ve also planted daffodil bulbs all around in a circle around the dome and look forward to seeing them bloom in the spring months.
We hope the Willow Dome will continue to grow strong and be there for many years to come. We all love visiting the dome and hope you have enjoyed seeing our photos.