Archive for the ‘Arts and Crafts’ Category

Bottle Trees

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

While I get back in the habit of blogging, I am editing and publishing some of my backlog of posts that I have started but not finished. This one I started in early May, before my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It makes me feel a bit lighter and summery, in contrast to today’s December grey.

(Background: Bottle trees came from Africa, and are seen throughout the South. The bottles’ bright colors and reflective nature attract evil spirits, which are then trapped inside the bottles. I gather evil spirits are like Japanese beetles; they can’t remember where they came from.)

My collection of blue bottles is gradually growing, as is my collection of bottle tree links. Digging has recently moved, and Pam made a new tree for her new yard.  In her comments, Felder Rushing’s wonderful collection of bottle trees was posted, and from there, I found a flickr bottle tree group.  Now, I’m curious about Quigley’s Castle, Arkansas, which is near Eureka Springs and has fourteen bottle trees. I even have a couple of photos of my own from our travels.

Blue bottle tree, Eureka Springs, Arkansas Colorful Bottle Tree, Jackson, Mississippi

I have a dozen or so bigger Riesling and water bottles, and a half dozen Phillips milk of magnesia bottles in storage. Right now, I’m thinking about two bottle trees with LED lighting to flank my entry walk.  Or possibly a blue bottle ‘tiki-like’ torch in the side yard. With the redbud an ice storm casualty, the yard is full of possibilities.

ETA: While cleaning up my home email, I found that my mother sent me this excerpt from Gerald Klingaman in his plant of the week article back in January 2009. Bottle Trees Make Bold Statement: Culture is a funny thing that shapes the way we see and understand the world. Every ethnic group is unique but none exists in a vacuum, so icons from one tradition are continually crossing the cultural boundaries of one group to be reinterpreted by another. The more we become the true melting pot we claim to be, the more cross-cultural icons creep into everyday use. A lot of these cultural beliefs involve trees in one way or another.

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San Diego with Excuses

Friday, April 18th, 2008

We were in San Diego the end of February, and then I needed a week to uncover my desk. And a week for Easter. And a week to re-cover my desk. And then we went to the Delta. And came back. And once I started to write again, the blog experienced technical difficulties in the middle of this post. (My computer now refuses to give me the thumbnail option. My brother can’t diagnose it long-distance. So, I’m working around the problem by uploading only thumbnailish-sized photos. Let me know how irritating it is. Huh. After re-exporting my San Diego photos as smaller jpg’s and uploading them, the computer now offers me thumbnails. Maybe it was a flaw in the way I exported them from iPhoto. Oh well. They’ll still mostly be smallish, I guess, just so I can finish this post and get on with life.)

So, San Diego six weeks later.

Sunday we spent with a college friend and her family. We went to La Jolla, and saw pelicans, seals, and a retaining wall with abalone shells. (Maybe we can do some concrete work like this.  Only with indigenous materials like beer bottles and pull tabs.)  Also the Scripps Aquarium.

pelicans-near-la-jolla.JPG seals-at-childrens-beach-san-diego.JPG abalone-wall.JPG scripps-aquarium-shark-with-us.JPG

We also rode the trolley (everywhere), ate Italian pastries for breakfast, walked along the beach, watched the sunset, and admired preschool pizza chefs.

san-diego-trolley.JPG don-and-san-diego-sunset.JPG preschool-pizza-chefs.JPG

Don toured the Marston House while I conferenced. I saw the Marston House Gardens. He said it was a great Arts & Crafts house. The gardens were quite formal.


We bought some architectural salvage, too. (We are such house geeks. My mother in law sent us some money to spend any way we wanted to in San Diego, and we bought drawer pulls with it.)

san-diego-architectural-salvage.JPG deco-drawer-pulls-san-diego.JPG

We had a little rain, enough that the natives complained, but we didn’t mind. Mostly, we had blue skies and good times.

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Arts and Crafts Gardens book report

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

A while ago, I made a list of Arts and Crafts garden books I’d like to read before planning my new garden. I got two for Christmas thanks to my mom, who faithfully clicks in every day to see if I’ve written anything. I have now read (or at least started): (1) Gardens of the Arts and Crafts Movement: Reality and Imagination, by Judith B. Tankard and (2) Gertrude Jekyll’s Lost Garden, by Rosamund Wallinger.

What I learned?

  • Jekyll rhymes with treacle.
  • Jekyll is known for her borders and drifts.
  • Jekyll kept an abbreviated set of her garden plans so that she could consult if need be.
    • Many of these abbreviated plans are in California.*
    • Translating her shorthand (often an illegible set of three letters) into a Latin species name is hard.
  • Other Arts and Crafts gardens were not planned by gardeners, but by architects, and were often impractical.
  • Most surprising to me, many of these gardens used lots of topiaries.
    • Because that’s what the 16th century gardeners did.
    • I was expecting a more “natural” approach, but instead I found a sculptured approach. At least so far. I’m only a third of the way through Tankard’s book.

As for the books themselves, Tankard’s book is densely written — which means trouble for a skimmer like myself. Ros’s book is charming, although she expects me to know more about her than I do. (I gather she has become famous for recreating Jekyll’s garden from almost nothing and lecturing about it.) Her pictures are lovely, too.

Thanks, Mother, I am enjoying them.  And my conclusion, for now, is that Arts and Crafts gardens can be whatever I want them to be.  I’ll probably wind up with borders and drifts instead of topiaries.  I have enough trouble keeping my hair cut.  (I may wind up with some box borders, though.)

*The plans wound up in California because of something to do with WWII, the Red Cross, and New England — maybe Vermont. Perhaps like the Von Trapp family?  We watched the Sound of Music Sunday night.  The Little One was appalled that Rolf joined the Nazis and was chasing the Von Trapps.  “But he was in love with Liesel!”  She also appreciated Greta being 5, “just like me.”

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