Cloth $27.00 ISBN: 9781780232928 Published May 2014 For sale in North and South America only


Alison Syme


Alison Syme

Distributed for Reaktion Books

240 pages | 70 color plates, 30 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2014
Cloth $27.00 ISBN: 9781780232928 Published May 2014 For sale in North and South America only
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.

Introduction: Natural History

1. Rites of Spring and Mourning

2. Willowy Forms

3. Pattern of Romance and Mystery

4. Tree of Prose and Poetry

5. Brushes with Fame

Conclusion: Willow in the World Garden



Further Reading

Associations and Websites


Photo Acknowledgements


Review Quotes
Crafts Magazine
“Willow’s many roles and stories is Alison Syme’s subject here. Spanning from fencing and cricket bats to Monet’s painting and The Wicker Man, Syme’s book plots the path of the ‘most poetic and practical of plants.’ Contemporary craftspeople Lise Bech, Joe Hogan, and Markku Kosonen make an appearance.” 
For more information, or to order this book, please visit
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style |

RSS Feed

RSS feed of the latest books from Reaktion Books. RSS Feed