“The Wind in the Willows” is a much-loved children’s book by Kenneth Grahame about four animal friends.
This photo of a Weeping Willow almost mirrors the scene of the first meeting of Mole and Rat (characters from the book) at the river. Rat then takes Mole for a boat ride.
Weeping Willow trees (Salix Babylonica) are graceful giants that look most beautiful as the wind blows through their branches. They get their common name from the way rain resembles tears when falling off the wispy branches. Favouring a moist, slightly acidic soil, they are also drought tolerant and cold hardy. Although not considered an evergreen, their leaves are present for most of the year… the first to come in the spring and the last to drop in the fall, long after the snow flies. Unfortunately, the lifespan is relatively short, between 20-30 years, however, if you are lucky, you may enjoy its beauty for up to 50 years. The Weeping Willow, originally from northern China, adds an elegant presence to any garden landscape.
Weeping Willows are the subject of many artists, notably Claude Monet. This painting is part of the Water Lilies series housed in the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris. The inspiration for the collection came from the water lily pond in Monet’s garden in Giverny, France. The Weeping Willows were planted along the banks of the pond and Monet has captured their beauty perfectly.
Weeping Willows are mentioned by many writers and poets and are often featured in spirituality.
*While Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled on the island of St. Helena, he found comfort under the shade of a Weeping Willow tree. Before Bonaparte’s body was exhumed and interred in a tomb at Invalides, in Paris, he was laid to rest under “his” tree in St. Helena.
I have one of these beauties in my front garden. I’ll admit to grumbling occasionally about the constant cleanup of the fallen twiggy branches and catkins (male or female flowers) in the spring, but the view from my front window is priceless. My neighbours marvel at its beauty while watching the sunset through the willow’s branches.
This past weekend my brother kindly offered to cut down some of the dead branches, and my sister-in-law helped with the cleanup. My “Diana, the Huntress” statue, who is nestled under the branches of the tree was looking more like the “Leaning Tower of Pisa”. Thankfully they also found a couple of strong, young men who righted her, so I no longer have to worry about her taking a disastrous tumble!
I love my tree and will do everything I can to ensure it lives a long and healthy life!