Willow has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for pain. The bark would be chewed or made into tea. The active ingredient, salicylic acid is the basic ingredient of modern aspirin. It is also a key ingredient in many skin-care products.
The willow we have planted is not the common Salix alba as it can grow very large and is not suitable for inclusion in a small garden. Instead we have planted a sallow (or shrub) willow which has small, broad, oval-shaped leaves and attractive coloured stems.
It should need minimal attention other than an occasional prune to maintain a desired shape.