ABOUT THIS BOOK
Drooping lazily over waterways, shading gardens, guarding hedgerows—the willow tree is a poetically formed plant, but also a practical one. For millennia, the wood of the willow has been used for baskets, furniture, fences, and toys, while finding its place in the watercolors of Monet, Shakespearean tragedies, Hans Christian Andersen, and The Lord of the Rings. Telling the willow’s rich and multilayered tale, Alison Syme explores its presence in literature, art, and human history.
Syme examines the manifold practical uses of the tree, discussing the application of its bark in medicines, its production as an energy crop that produces biofuel and charcoal, and its employment for soil stabilization and other environmental protection schemes. But despite all the functional uses of willows, she argues, we must also heed the lessons they teach about living, dying, and enriching our world. Looking at the roles that willows have played in folklore, religion, and art, she parses their connections to grief and joy, toil and play, necessity and ornament. Filled with one hundred images, Willow is a seamless account of the singular place the willow holds in our culture.