Well! Since then, several readers have told me, er, the blogger, that — despite the appearances — this is actually just fine for the tree. So, in the sober light of day... Several readers passed along links to willow pruning forums and self-help groups... As one willow tree forum member said, "willows are very tolerant of massive pruning (you could cut it back to a stump and it will still re-sprout)."
Meanwhile, during the weekend, I took a walk by to see the tree for myself... there was a stack of firewood for the taking... (not to mention some random mail — oh look, Discover Card!)
...and workers hacked down the other tree on the lot...
We'll come back for a look in the spring