Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bottle tree

I saw my first bottle tree a year or two ago, in a garden down South. Here it is. No one explained it and I immediately went online to learn about its origins and history. So much of what's out there is one-dimensional. We read: Bottle trees came to the South with West African slaves. Well, yes, but there's more to the story. In next Friday's Inquirer, I'll talk about bottle trees, and the idea they embody ... that evil spirits can be captured in bottles at night and destroyed in the morning light. It's a very old concept that is expressed in many forms. These days, bottle trees are more garden art than folkloric remedies for bad luck and, in some cases, these trees are of high artistic quality. In some cases. And tales abound. One is told by Elmer Long, a retired cement factory worker who lives in the Mojave Desert in California. He's created mroe than 400 bottle trees, using bottles his dad collected and others he's scavenged from unofficial dumps in the desert. He says he's obsessed. Also ... creative.

Bottle tree

I saw my first bottle tree a year or two ago, in a garden down South. Here it is. No one explained it and I immediately went online to learn about its origins and history. So much of what's out there is one-dimensional. We read: Bottle trees came to the South with West African slaves. Well, yes, but there's more to the story. In next Friday's Inquirer, I'll talk about bottle trees, and the idea they embody ... that evil spirits can be captured in bottles at night and destroyed in the morning light. It's a very old concept that is expressed in many forms. These days, bottle trees are more garden art than folkloric remedies for bad luck and, in some cases, these trees are of high artistic quality. In some cases. And tales abound. One is told by Elmer Long, a retired cement factory worker who lives in the Mojave Desert in California. He's created mroe than 400 bottle trees, using bottles his dad collected and others he's scavenged from unofficial dumps in the desert. He says he's obsessed. Also ... creative. 

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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