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Wednesday, March 27 2013


Before I even planted vegetables, I planted this in my garden:

(crickets chirping)

"What the heck is that?" you ask.

This, Friends and Neighbors, is my Bottle Tree. Those of you from the north probably still have question marks above your eyebrows.


You can call them 'garden art', 'poor man's stained glass', or a 'trashy tradition," but nevertheless, I find them a delightful addition to the home.  Being a child of the South, I am no stranger to bottle trees. Some are tasteful, some are trashy, but it's the lore behind the bottle tree that has always intrigued me.

The bottle tree of old wasn't simply a garden whimsy. Although often credited as orginating in Africa in the 9th Century, some scholars claim there is evidence of bottle trees much earlier in Europe. Regardless of origin, the stories behind it are pretty much the same.

Legend has it that spirits are attracted to the glass, crawl inside the bottle, and are trapped.  Some go so far as to say they are destroyed when the sun comes up and shines on the glass. It is for this reason that cobalt blue bottles are so popular on the trees. The color blue has long been associated with repelling spirits. In the Deep South there was even a color of house paint called "haint blue" which was used to paint porches, door trim, and window trims.  This color ranged from a blue-green to a blue-gray. Looking back at my childhood I can still recall this color in my mind as "porch blue."

Apparently the paint used to be made with lime that was supposed to repel insects, so one could argue that the color alone did not repel them. Still, it makes for a neat story.

For more on bottle trees, I urge you to explore the website of Felder Rushing.  (  He has done research on bottle trees all over the world, and his collection of photographs is most extensive. 

So while I doubt my bottle tree is being filled with spirits each night, I do appreciate the lore behind the tree, and really enjoy watching the sun play through the bottles.  I have blue flowers planted under it at the moment, but the yellow of sunflowers or black-eyed susans is particularly beautiful against the blue glass.  I urge you to explore Rushing's site. It is sure to awaken the whimsy in your garden too!








Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:01 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
I just got back from N.C. and saw several of these. Love them! I'm looking at bottles in a new light (as it were) and plan on having one of my own.
Posted by Janet on 03/27/2013 - 12:11 PM
If you peruse Felder Rushing's site you will see so many examples of bottle trees. Something is sure to grab your fancy. I find that I simply adore the blue bottles in the sunlight. I'd like to do some kind of variation on a bottle tree path at the ranch. MMMMMMMM..... my imagination runs WILD!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 03/27/2013 - 04:37 PM
Love this beautiful tree! Looks like I'm going on a bottle hunt. Cobalt blue bottles are difficult to find...
Posted by Jane on 03/28/2013 - 11:24 AM
Yessirree! I ended up buying them from the same place I bought the tree, but they were $6 a piece!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 03/28/2013 - 05:13 PM

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