Salix babylonica • Weeping willow

Salix  •  Willow •  ヤナギ •  柳 •  yanagi

The weeping willow sits in Area K, and creates a striking focal point on the corner of the winding E path for a visitor traveling north, but also for the one traveling south and bending the same path: from both angles the willow takes a central front view, attracting the eye all year round: be it the impressively  dark naked branches in winter, new contrasting pale green growth in spring, or fascinating long sweeps the rest of the year.

I think I finally got the story of the tree right: it was originally planted leaning diagonally over the water to suggest movement, but some years ago it toppled and fell into the pond.  After it was rescued it was given a short support pole, with hope that it will recover while its root seemed totally hollowed out; it developed a secondary root system and did recover, presently leaning almost horizontally.  It is the only remaining willow in the garden – all others had been removed as they grew out of scale with the rest of the garden; I like to tell visitors that this one had earned its keep…


SJG • 4/1/13 – Salix babylonica • Weeping willow, Area K


SJG • 4/1/13 – Salix babylonica • Weeping willow, Area K. You can see to the other side through the cavity of its hollowed root.

From wikipedia: Salix babylonica (Babylon willow or Weeping willow; Chinese: 垂柳) is a species of willow native to dry areas of northern China, but cultivated for millennia elsewhere in Asia, being traded along the Silk Road to southwest Asia and Europe. […]

From Missouri Botanical Garden: […]  Noteworthy Characteristics: Native to China, weeping willow (sometimes called Babylon weeping willow) is a small deciduous tree that grows to 30-40’ tall with a broad rounded crown of branches that weep to the ground. Many consider this tree to have the best form of the weeping willows available in commerce. Branchlets are typically green or brown (not yellow as with S. alba ‘Tristis’). Weeping willow can be a spectacular specimen at the edge of a pond with its branches gracefully weeping down and touching the water, however, it is often very difficult to site this tree in a residential landscape. It is dioecious, with male and female flowers appearing in silvery green catkins on separate male and female trees. Flowering catkins appear in April-May, but are not showy. Narrow, lanceolate, finely-toothed leaves (to 6” long and 3/4” wide) are light green above and gray-green beneath. Variable fall color is usually an undistinguished greenish-yellow. This tree has more pendulous branching and is more compact than Salix alba ‘Tristis’. The specific epithet was given to this tree by Carl Linnaeus who mistakenly believed it to be the biblical willow of Babylon. The true species may not be available in commerce any more. […]

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