Poetically as it is visually, the willow has always been a tear-jerker: Shakespeare’s Desdemona sobs herself a river in Othello and Ophelia in Hamlet meets a watery end after climbing despairingly on to a wispy willow branch.
Despite ethereal appearances, the weeping willow is quietly potent: the bark is rich in natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, containing natural b-hydroxy acid, excellent for the treatment of dry skin, and high levels of salicin, the natural forerunner to aspirin. We’ve cheered up our crestfallen willow by pairing it with the water lily, long associated with tranquillity and beauty. The root is rich in tannins and restorative gallic acid, and its botanical extract is revered for the soothing, skin-softening benefits it imparts. Britain in a Bottle Noble Isle sources water lily and willow from the medieval town of Lavenham: willow bark from the Lavenham Woodland Project, a planting initiative located by the famous Lavenham Walk, a two-mile promenade through green and pleasant English countryside; and water lilies plucked from the 600-year-old spring-fed lake at Lavenham Hall, now the focal point of Kate Denton’s Sculpture Garden.
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