Willow tells the rich tale of this many-sided plant, exploring its presence in literature, art and human history. Linked with life and death, grief and joy, toil and play, necessity and ornament, the willow has, in different times and places, functioned as a mirror of and participant in almost every facet of human existence. Although willows have been put to manifold practical uses, we must also heed their poetic lessons: willows have much to teach us about living, dying, loving, hybridizing and enriching our world, and protecting the environment.
This well-illustrated book leads us from Monet’s willows to Tang poetry, and from uses in medicine to environmental protection, in a seamless account of the special place these trees hold in world culture. Willow will appeal to anyone interested in gardens, the environment or the cultural history of plants.
Alison Syme is Associate Professor in the Departments of Art and Visual Studies at the University of Toronto. She is the author of A Touch of Blossom: John Singer Sargent and the Queer Flora of Fin-de-siècle Art (2010).