A WILLOW sculpture of the famous Mayflower ship has been planted in Harwich, and is set to keep growing for years to come.

Artists from Willow Phoenix were commissioned to create the piece in Harwich Green by Tendring Council as part of this year’s Mayflower 400 celebrations.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the historic Mayflower sailing the Pilgrim Fathers to the New World, known today as the United States of America.

Harwich has strong links to the ship, and its captain Christopher Jones used to live in the town, as well as some of the crew.

For this reason Harwich is part of the Mayflower 400 Compact, an international group of destinations linked to the story.

The artists designed the ship structure, and members of the community got involved with planting it at an event supported by the Harwich Society.

Unlike previous willow sculptures in Harwich created by other artists, the Mayflower has been planted meaning it will grow and continue for years to come.

Alex Porter, Tendring Council’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said the eye-catching sculpture would be a striking part of the visitor attraction in Harwich.

“As a living piece of artwork, it is also something the local community can take stewardship of and be part of it growing,” Mr Porter said.

A Willow Phoenix spokesman said: “We’ve really enjoyed building the living willow Mayflower, and have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement of the local businesses and residents, especially SCS Scaffolding, Homecraft Hardware, Shakers Bar and of course TDC for commissioning us.

“Also a big thanks goes to the Harwich Scouts and the Harwich Society Gardening Club who helped.”

“We are looking forward to seeing the sculpture grow and mature, and we’ll be back here for the Illuminate Festival in November 2020. Thank you Harwich.”

Colin Farnell, Harwich Society chairman, added: “A willow Mayflower is a lovely idea and the Harwich Society’s Gardening Group was pleased to help with the project.

“It’s a very special anniversary which can be celebrated in many different ways.”