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  • Writer's pictureSoo Hammond

Kiss of the giant badger and the new living willow garden

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

Kiss of the badger and the new living willow garden

Who would have thought a kiss with a giant badger would lead 3 years later to working with the living willow artist and creator of that giant badger, Michelle Cain, on the new Hide and Seek garden at Top of the Woods.

Giant badger at the Welsh Wildlife Centre

I discovered Michelle and her workshop in Christmas 2016, when I saw a couple of her large willow reindeer peeping out of warehouse building at the bottom end of Cardigan town centre.

Curiously, I walked towards the peeping reindeer into her workshop, and saw an array of different coloured willows and sculptures at different stages of completion.

Amongst all this willow, was a pretty lady with lovely blue eyes and bedraggled blonde hair, wrapped up in layers to keep warm and her now iconic finger-less gloves, with her little Jack Russell called Beanie.

Michelle Cain planting willow

I started chatting to Michelle and within 5 minutes I had shared my idea for a new nature space at Top of the Woods, that would be for both children and adults.

I wanted to create a relaxing place, where people could disappear for a few hours with the sun on their face and a good book in hand, in the newly planted woodland, chilling out and enjoying the space, sat in giant dragon’s nests.

For the little ones, it would be a place they could get giddy, laughing and chasing each other playing hide and seek in the living willow tunnels and weaving in-between the green gazebo. A nature space for everyone to enjoy.

Michelle Cain and beanie planting the living willow tunnel

I initially sketched out the design ideas i had for the garden on paper and then Michelle and i went down to the nature glade in the new woodland and used large ropes to make up the designs on the ground. Soon after the planting began on a cold February morning.

Soo helping out

I did initially help for a few days but I was more hindrance than helpful! But Michelle was lovely to work with and she gave me a crash course on living willow and the many hundred of varieties available, how some were used for different applications, such as sculpture, basket weaving, bio fuel and creating Hide and Seek Gardens!

Michelle certainly knows her willow!

My main planting contribution to the garden was to plant 2 red rowan trees, which I called Rock & Hudson as my garden sentinels to protect guests from enchantment and witches :-) (which is what rowan trees symbolise in British folklore).

After a few weeks, the plants where in and all that was left to do, was to let nature take its course to let the willow grow and for all of us to enjoy the new nature garden.

Why don’t you seek out the new Hide and Seek garden, when you come for your camping or glamping holiday this summer?

Hide and Seek garden at Top of the Woods

Michelle has worked at many festivals, such as Glastonbury, Shamballa, the Green Man, Big Chill, creating her beautiful giant willow sculptures.

Dancing ladies at the Big Chill

Michelle has also created the giant badger, giant otter and the butterfly willow maze at the Welsh Wildlife Centre and now the beautiful Hide and Seek Garden, at Top of the Woods.

Book your stay with us and enjoy the new nature garden

Find out more about Michelle Cains beautifully sculptures and gardens and

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