An exercise in Occam’s Razor (the K.I.S.S. approach)
Bottle trees, beyond their being folksy “make-do” garden ornaments, are a proud form of recycling. I’ve met hundreds of folks who openly confess they are “saving bottles” for a notional future state of nirvana they hope to reach when they’ll feel daring enough to actually put a bottle tree in their garden. Where used bottles belong.
In these weird times, bottle trees strike a chord for being a simple, refreshing, liberating aspect of life where there are no rules at all about getting it right or wrong. Unlike same old, same old pink flamingoes, no two bottle trees look exactly alike, not even those made of standard welded frames bedecked with your personal choice and placement of bottles. So, without a standard to go by, you actually can’t mess up.
Glass “bottle trees” have been around for centuries, first as icons of superstitious beliefs based on a three-thousand year old Arabian folk tale, and now increasingly as eccentric but popular home-made glass garden ornaments. I know these folksy sculptures 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 modest home gardens to upscale botanical gardens and art museums, rarely with any two being exactly alike – the only things the widely diverse gardeners who create or display them have in common are glass bottles held up where the sunshine can radiate through them.
Some wet blankets sniff that these folksy paeans to stained glass are forgettable sights, which to me means they just don’t get it, and that’s okay – I mean, not everyone hangs glittery stuff from holes in their ears, either, right?
Though Eudora Welty photographed a bottle tree in the 1930s, the first authentic glass bottle tree I can recall was beside a tenant shack on a dusty road dead center in the Mississippi Delta. I was maybe fifteen, yet to this day the inexplicable spectacle haunts my sense of the absurd.
Ever see an old guy jump with joy and click his heels in the air?
Exactly what I did when I first walked into the HUUUUUGE tent – over ten times bigger than my entire home property – that housed the astounding floral exhibits for the 2018 Royal Horticulture Society’s flower show held on the grounds of the majestic Chatsworth estate in the Peak District of north central England.
First thing I and all the other visitors saw was a pair of bottle trees adorning a major display, right under the big marquee. Not by a long shot the first of the many popular glass garden sculptures found at every RHS flower show, but the first authentic, home-made bottle trees. Ever. Continue reading “Bottle Trees on the Big Stage”