Garden Musings · Trees

My love-hate relationship with a weeping willow

Weeping Willow

I threaten to cut down our weeping willow every time I am under its massive umbrella of weeping branches raking fallen sticks in early spring and after every storm. To say this tree is messy is an understatement.

I threaten to cut down our weeping willow every time my husband is risking life and limb climbing through its branches to prune out the dead wood before it falls in the next storm.

I threaten to cut down our weeping willow every fall when it finally drops its leaves after we have removed the net from the pond and cleaned out the gutters. I curse each late-falling leaf that lands in the pond and lament the once-again jam packed gutters. I just hate that tree!

When we planted that tree twenty-five years ago, it held the promise of all of its attributes. It could thrive in a spot in our front yard that drained poorly and stayed wet longer in spring and after heavy rains. It would grow quickly – up to 10 feet each year – so our lot devoid of trees would have a large tree within a few years and give some badly needed shade. And, most importantly, its graceful rounded stature would add character to our landscape.

The juvenile 6-foot tall weeping willow was planted with love and the help of our three young daughters. As the tree grew, its lovely sweeping branches created the green walls of a playhouse where the girls hosted teddy bear tea parties and put on plays. Later, they climbed in its branches. Years passed and the pretty green foliage provided a beautiful backdrop for prom pictures.

After our daughters grew up and moved to their own homes, I planted a lovely shade garden full of hostas, ferns and other shade-loving perennials under its large canopy. It stands guard over the plants letting just enough filtered light through for them to flourish.

In spring as its long, thin leaves appear, I admire its grandeur. It is a gentle weeping giant that matured with our family.

Jack under weeping willow

Now, my grandson Jack is discovering the magic of this tree. He runs through its long branches laughing, “It tickles, it tickles!” And I am sure my younger grandson Tommy will be joining him this summer for parties at the bistro set made from fallen trees that sits under its shelter.

If I could be transported back twenty-five years, would I plant that weeping willow?

Of course I would. It thrives in a poorly draining spot; it provides shade for my hostas; at 75 feet tall, it adds beauty and grace to our landscape; and it holds the memories of a lifetime. I love that weeping willow!

 Do you have any plants with which you have a love/hate relationship? Share your stories and garden with me!

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