In you’ve visited Millennium Country Park recently you might have spotted a few new additions, in the form of some beautiful willow huts.

The willow for these structures was grown and sourced locally, and installed by Jane and Guy Lambourne from Wassledine: a small business providing countryside experiences and products from their family farm in Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire. On the farm they manage a small woodland, willow plantation and grassland in a wildlife-friendly way, as well keeping a herd of red poll cattle and running other countryside businesses (like producing lumpwood charcoal, which we sell in our Forest Centre shop).

If you’ve supported the Forest of Marston Vale for a while you might even recognise the name, as Jane and Guy have been involved with us for a long time! Guy was a member of the Forest team for 18 years (leaving in 2015 to focus on their new business full time) and Jane delivers storytelling and craft sessions for us in school holidays and at special event days.

At Wassledine they grow around 30 different willow varieties, and each has its own particular characteristics. A living material, each variety grows slightly differently from year to year in terms of height and vigour – influenced by pests, diseases and weather – and they don’t use chemicals on the willow, so the crop is variable from season to season.

Our huts are in good company – Wassledine supply willow to basket makers, artists, festivals and other craftspeople around the country, as well as making willow sculpture and products in-house.

Already a firm favourite spot with our team, we hope that they will be loved and explored by visitors and wildlife alike!