by the Rambler 14/09/2001
THIS year, when I needed stakes for a plot of garden peas, I was reminded of the biblical story of the farmer whose enemy sowed cockle in his crop of grain.
A friendly neighbour, Brendan Hannon, who cultivated Osiers for basket making, kindly brought me a large bundle of saplings, which looked ideal for the purpose.
Unhappily, they quickly outgrew the peas and choked them.
I was left with no choice but to let both grow to the harvest.
Because of their bushy roots, uprooting the Osiers would have dislodged the peas.
When harvest time came, my crop of peas was hardly worth saving.
Very many people exclaim 'What is an osier? which surprises me. They are, of course, willows.
'Osier beds' feature prominently on the earliest ordinance survey maps of south west county Antrim, that is, at the south east corner of Lough Neagh.
The roots of the craft of using Osiers for weaving containers have been traced back to the ice-age and artefacts illustrating the evolution of the process are to be found in the German National Basket Museum which is located near Bamberg in Bavaria.