The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section IV. Deciduous Ornamental Trees

Willow trees in cemeteries

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To these offices of pensive melancholy, it appears to be dedicated in almost all countries. The Chinese and other Asiatic nations, and the Turks, as well as the enlightened Europeans, universally plant it in their cemeteries and last places of repose. A French writer thus speaks of it in contrasting its merits for those purposes, with the cypress. "The cypress was long considered as the appropriate ornament of the cemetery; but its gloomy shade among the tombs, and its thick, heavy foliage of the darkest green, inspire only depressing thoughts, and present the image of death under its most appalling form. The Weeping willow, on the contrary, rather conveys a picture of grief for the loss of the departed, than of the darkness of the grave. Its light and elegant foliage flows like the dishevelled hair and graceful drapery of a sculptured mourner over a sepulchral urn; and conveys those soothing, though softly melancholy reflections which have made one of our poets exclaim, 'There is a pleasure even in grief.'" * (* Poiteau, "nouveau du Hamel.") On this passage, Loudon remarks: "Notwithstanding the preference thus given the willow, the shape of the cypress conveying to a fanciful mind the idea of a flame pointing upwards, has been supposed to afford an emblem of the hope of immortality; it is still planted in many church-yards on the continent, and alluded to in the epitaphs, under this light." * (* Arb. Brit.)