I’m in Virginia right now, and yesterday, and as we were driving around yesterday, I noticed several bottle trees. These colorful, whimsical decorations caught my eye, so I took pictures and looked them up when I got to my computer.
Bottle trees have an ancient history. Appalachian History
says that the bottle tree originated in Central Africa many centuries ago as a way to keep evil spirits from entering the house. It was believed that spirits entered glass bottles so the bottle trees were placed outside the house to capture evil spirits at night. The evil spirits would be killed off by the sunlight in the morning.
The bottle tree tradition was brought to America through slaves, and throughout the Southern United States, you can still see bottle trees, although most people just use them as decorative garden ornaments.
I can see one of these trees in my own garden, perhaps made with wine bottles from local New Jersey wineries. Beer bottles or any other bottle could also be used. The bottle tree pictured at the right was made from an actual tree, but most bottle trees need some sort of stand. I found the following places online to buy bottle tree stands that you can put your own bottles on.
At West End – Iron bottle tree stand that’s 72” tall - $34
Gardener’s Supply – Powder coated steal bottle tree stand that’s 63” tall and holds 16 bottles - $29.95
I also found several places that sold ready made bottle trees with both the stand and all the colorful bottles to place on it. I think it would be more meaningful (and eco-friendly) to use bottles that I’ve collected myself.
Have you run across these bottle trees or do you have one yourself?
More recycling stories on MNN: