Here is the Autumn Olive, Eleaganus augustifolia, basket i said i would talk about in my last post. I know it is crude, but i am pretty proud of it.
This fast-growing shrub quickly invades open areas and is considered a nuisance by property owners.I began playing with weaving autumn olive in 2002. My first attempts were dismal. My previous collecting/ weaving experience was limited to vines, and I found the Autumn Olive inflexible by comparison. I also could not deal with the extreme taper of the branches.In the interim years, I am beginning to understand what parts of the plant to harvest and how to use it.
I am thinking it probably should be managed and handled like willow. Since I have never had a willow basket class, I am pretty much flying by the seat of my pants, here. Usually I bring a book on vacation for ideas on how to handle this very tough plant, but this year I forgot to bring one! Oh well, time to test my memory and creativity!
I have been cutting the one-year old growth and trying to go back to the same places each year, to make withes to weave with. Problem is, I am there in the summer. They are supposed to be cut in the fall. But I have no real option. I also am cutting some new growth to have something to weave in the tight spots. Here you see me carrying it on my head, down to the creek to soak in order to make the border. I usually weight it down with rocks and leave it most of the day, or overnight.
This came out pretty well for a “garden basket,” which is all I have ever figured out to do with them….. This is a process- focused thing for me, the act of making the basket, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, the soothing repetitiveness of the weaving, interspersed with the challenges, is very recreational.
Here are some photos of some of my previous years’ attempts at using autumn olive.
When I come home, I put them out in the garden, and they keep for a few years, anyway…