Blousy and billowing, the willow tree likes to drape itself over the banks of streams and ponds, its soft-green branches weeping gracefully into the water. 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, and contains high levels of salicin, the natural forerunner to aspirin. We’ve cheered up our crestfallen willow by pairing it with its joyful watery neighbour, the bright, splashy water lily, whose botanical extract is revered for the soothing, skin-softening benefits it imparts.
Willow (Salix alba) bark extract contains salicin – known for its anti-bacterial properties – and provides natural b-hydroxy acid activity, excellent in the treatment of dry skin.
The Water Lily (Nymphaea orodata), long associated with tranquillity, offers natural skin-calming benefits, its root being rich in tannins and restorative gallic acid.
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, which has been given new life as the focal point of Kate Denton’s Sculpture Garden.