Two barrels full of corkscrew willow branches sit in Sue La Plant’s Pleasant Hill garage, remnants of an outdoor project that transformed the long, twisting pieces into the woven, woody canopy gracing her deck.
She first came across the branches while visiting her neighbor, the late Herb Jackson, who was planning to cut down the corkscrew willow in his yard.
“When I saw those branches, I thought, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, but I want them,’ ” La Plant recalls. So she asked Jackson if she could have some. She stored them in her garage last fall, and there they stayed until inspiration struck.
“One night, I thought, ‘I have this gazebo tent on the deck, and I want to make a different type of a top on it,’ ” she says, envisioning a kind of “nest.”
La Plant first let the branches dry out over the winter. She painted 40 to 50 of them with honey gold paint stain to preserve them.
It was a challenging task, particularly because of the shape of the branches. The painting took about three weeks.
Then she used about 250 feet of nylon camouflage rope, placing knots every 10 inches, and crosshatching the rope like a lattice pie crust, she explains.
La Plant, her husband, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend loosely wove the sticks through the rope, intertwining them with solar lights.
The result is beautiful and functional, a rustic canopy with intricate lines that seem to fit just so, offering those who sit beneath it some cover, without sacrificing the view.
The nest made its debut in May, with a range of admirers. One bird tried to build a nest in it, La Plant says. Sometimes she’ll overhear passersby on the trail behind her home make comments like, “Did you see that?”
Working on projects using natural elements is relaxing for La Plant, who points out another example of her work — the cluster of rocks hanging from the tree in her front yard. She also enjoys gardening.
As for those leftover willow branches: La Plant already has a project in mind. Next time you’re walking the trail behind her home, you may see them in the form of walls in her two-story tree house.
Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or Darren@dmcityview.com to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”