I think I just created Mississippi’s tallest bottle tree in my front garden.
I know these folksy garden sculptures, based on three thousand-year-old Arabian folk tales (not African “voodoo” as some people say), aren’t every one’s cup of tea. But there are thousands of them scattered across gardens of a surprising assortment of people; I’ve photographed them in poor country gardens and upscale and even antebellum settings, done by “dirt” gardeners and those with the wherewithal to have used classical sculptures instead.
Over the decades I have seen more and more hands raised when I ask attendees of my lectures who has one. And nobody gasps out loud any more – decent people realize now that this is a personal expression, not a mass produced plastic flamingo eye-poke.
I even wrote and photographed a book of them and the many other ways glass has been used as garden ornaments, including by Dale Chihuly and other garden glass artists around the world. All have about the same impact on viewers –you either like ‘em or not.
I’ve previously written a pretty complete and authentic history of bottle trees and related garden glass. You can find that here.
Holding glass to the sky so its colors can sing!
Again, it ain’t about voodoo, or being weird. Metal and glass artist Jenny Pickford of Worchestershire, England explained it best, saying we’re just “holding glass to the sky so its colors can sing.”
Anyway, I got help turning a recently-delimbed cedar tree, which had become tangled with the utility wires going to my house, into what I think may be the biggest bottle tree in the state, topping at just over seventeen feet. Not as big as the one at the Huntsville, Alabama Botanic Garden, but pretty tall.
We drilled holes in the ends of lopped-off branches and the trunk, tapped foot-long pieces of iron re-bar into each one, and gently slid a freshly-cleaned bottle over each one.
A neighbor (who was actually pleased) promptly called it giganteus so my official Latin name for it is Silica transparency ‘Gigantea’. For repetition and to help the tall one seem less gawky, I added an eight-foot metal bottle tree and a second, chest-high one, and plan on planting some vines on the giant one next spring.
I’ve seen an inspiringly big bottle tree in Carrollton and two whopping ones out from Florence – including a nearly fifteen-footer… Anybody out there got one taller?
I sincerely hope mine eventually comes in an honorable second or even third place.