“My Garden Nest” by Fleur Ward

My garden has seen some transformations over the years, but the addition of a garden nest in the summer of 2020 was the most exciting.

I have always loved the view of the garden from our kitchen but we never got to see the view from the garden back to the house. We didn’t have a bench or seating area out there and I didn’t want some bulk
standard park bench plopped centrally at the end.

I had seen something on an Instagram post that inspired me – a large bird nest type sculpture. It prompted me to begin some lengthy investigative work and eventually I found a willow artist, Tom O’Hare, who could make me, exactly what I had in mind.

His work inspired me and I knew that it would be exactly right for our garden. I sent him a brief with dimensions, drawings and a render to be sure that we had the same vision. He came back to me with a proposal, and we went from there.

In summary, I had found a way to create a nest in my garden. It was made in two sections of steel to get it through the doorway and hallway and then attached together in the garden. Some of the willow weaving had been done before it arrived but 70% of it was completed in my garden.  It took just over 4 hours – wonderful to watch.

Tom made an oak base so that we had something raised to sit on. It’s a sphere with the bottom 10% cut off so that it can’t roll away! We can move the nest around the garden if we wish but it sits nicely in the corner that you see when you enter the kitchen.

I designed the aperture to be just the right size to allow access and ensure that you feel enclosed when you are inside. It is a very private space. You can’t be seen from above by the neighbours When sitting inside it, and the view you out is framed by the circle –  like the start of a James Bond film. The light dabbles in beautifully.

The willow is very malleable enabling circular shapes to be woven into the steel frame and weathers
well but won’t last forever. It will need to be refreshed from time to time, perhaps every five years, and so we keep a tarpaulin over it at night and during the winter, when it isn’t being used.

What I love most about it is the sense of calm it creates when you’re in it. You feel as if you are somewhere in the woods, rather than just in the back garden.  I wanted a place to sit and read, meditate, have a glass of wine with my husband.. it does all that and is also somewhere for the kids to gather for pizza, sit with the rabbits, watch a movie and ‘camp.

This piece is somewhere between furniture and sculpture and creates the focal point in the garden we lacked. I would love to work with Tom again and we’ve discussed a willow workshop at my Sussex house. There are so many possibilities.

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Fleur Ward is a talented artist and designer. Her work includes beautiful interior design, extending out into the garden, creating individual art for your home and a growing range of products and stationery under her “Ohh Fleur” brand.

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