Willow tree background image

Our Story

.....after their adventures, Matt worked as a farm manager on a sixty acre fruit and veg PYO farm just outside Oxford and Wendy in sales and marketing for Royal Mail.  After three years they left the farm and its’ tied cottage and Matt started his own business growing willow and making woven willow fences and garden products, all whilst renovating a pair of grade two listed cottages in the Cotswolds and having their first baby – a busy time!  Luckily Wendy stayed at the Royal Mail doing a proper job (well earning money anyway)!

 

The willow business became very successful and Matt undertook many exciting and challenging projects including exhibiting each year at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, constructed the centre piece (large willow bower) for Prince Charles’ Healing Garden in memory of his grandmother at Chelsea Flower show, ran regular courses at RHS Wisley, and fell out with Tommy Walsh whilst constructing a willow castle on a Ground Force episode!!.Having made a lovely home, had another couple of children and established a viable business some said they were mad to give it all up and start a much bigger and scarier project in France, however having fallen upon their dream farmhouse and smallholding in the north-west Dordogne and never ones to shy away from a challenge,  Wendy, Matt, and their three boys moved to France in 2002.  They saw the move as a chance to jump off the merry-go-round of their hectic lives, and lead a more fulfilling and relaxed life style ……… little did they know!

 

What followed was a mammoth task of renovating buildings and barns to create their own home and a holiday gite, setting up the gardens and kitchen garden with a polytunnel, orchard and rainwater recuperation irrigation system, land management to include fencing in preparation for the arrival of the chickens, sheep and pigs, and planting 25000 willow cuttings of varying varieties and managing the growing plantation.  Alongside all of this Matt still occasionally manages to do willow commissions in peoples’ gardens, teaches willow weaving, does other fencing and landscaping work whilst Wendy runs the holiday gite and does a bit of catering.

 

And now after eight years of hard work they are offering luxury eco holidays in yurts built by themselves from willow grown on their own land.  The yurt building all started because they were invited to exhibit their willow business at a French eco festival.  At the time they had a lot of willow suitable for yurt building so Matt  decided to have a go at building one.  It was a big success and they then realised that there was an opportunity to create something really special utilising all of their resources – Matt’s willow and green woodworking skills, Wendy’s seamstress skills from when she was younger, the willow plantation, and their desire to run an ecologically sustainable business and share the beautiful countryside in which  Chez Devalon sits.