Planting of fifth Johnson’s Willow

three men, two with spades, stand next to young tree

A clone of Samuel Johnson’s beloved willow tree has been planted at Stowe Pool in Lichfield. 

Lichfield District Council and the Johnson Society held a Johnson’s Willow tree planting ceremony at Stowe Pool on Tuesday 2 November. 

The new tree has been grown from a cutting taken from the fourth Johnson’s Willow, which was felled in October due to extensive decay. 

The original tree, thought to date back to around 1700, is famous for having been Dr Samuel Johnson’s favourite tree, although in his time it was known as the Lichfield Willow. The Lichfield poet Anna Seward and the American poet Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson both mentioned the tree in their writings.  

Councillor Iain Eadie, Cabinet Member responsible for Parks, said:

“I am very proud we have been a part of this historic tree planting. Well done to Paul Niven, our community gardener, who took the cutting and has been tending it for almost three years, so that Johnson’s Willow can be enjoyed at Stowe Pool for years to come.” 

The ceremony also featured a number of poetry readings, including the first-time reading of the poem Resurgam – I shall rise again: Johnson’s Willow by Sarah Dale, who won the Johnson Society’s competition to write a poem to celebrate this historic tree planting. 

John Winterton, Heritage Officer of the Johnson Society, said:  

“The Johnson Society is grateful to Lichfield District Council for its hard work and collaboration on perpetuating Johnson’s Willow. Today’s replanting means that this unique link with Samuel Johnson and his era will live on.”

The young willow tree is being protected by a metal cage until it establishes itself. 

Find out more about Stowe Pool. 

Published: 2 November 2021