Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Visiting Wildlife...

video
This little family of deer passed through our yard each evening through most of the summer...

How to Make Your Own Bottle Tree...Free!

As I promised in my previous post, here is how I made my own Bottle Tree for free, or very little cost. Since I will assume you already know that you want a bottle tree in your garden, I won't go into the history and reasoning behind this interesting garden decor. If you would like to know more about the tradition of the Bottle Tree, just type in a Google search, there are tons of sites out there, just pick one!
 


I discovered bottle trees quite by accident online, and have wanted one every since. They just look so darn pretty sparkling in the sun, and since I love both recycling and making junk art, it seemed like the perfect fit. Now, you can go online and order a ready made iron model, some complete with colored bottles! There are many talented artist out there making some really amazing sculptures. But since this is a DIY blog, and I am, OK, I admit it, CHEAP! I decided to make this one myself...
 
  When a beloved maple tree died in our front yard, I was very disappointed. It held attachments to my father as well as a good friend, both of whom are now gone. After digging it out, my crafty friend  said, "Why don't you make it into a Bottle Tree?" Brilliant! So as soon as we were finished planting the replacement garden, I got to work. The first step was removing most of the remaining root system. I trimmed it down to just the largest roots, cut in such a way as to allow the tree to stand up on it's own. I then began to snip off the smallest branches, and branches that were too close together or crossing each other. I cut away any extra branches that wouldn't support a bottle. There is no way to tell you how it should look, each tree will be different to start with, but just keep trimming until you like the look of it. Try to stagger the ends, so that your bottles will be displayed to their advantage. I chose to set my tree up in my little herb garden, it gets too much shade for a lush growth of color, so I wanted the glass bottles to brighten it up a bit...
   After standing the tree in place, I covered the "base" with good garden soil. I also added a circle of larger stones, and built up a bit of a raised bed surrounding the bottle tree, as I wanted to add some perennials next Spring. After that, it was just a matter of adding the bottles that I had on hand, after washing them and removing the labels. Try soaking them first, if that doesn't work, try some Goo Gone, or other label remover. I have continued to add bottles to my tree as I find interesting styles. Places to look are, bars, liquor stores, thrift shops, yard sales, and ask your friends to save them for you. Some liquor comes in special colored bottles for the holidays...

  The orange and turquoise bottles in the photo are painted, which wasn't apparent at first glance. I expect these will lose their color over time, but as I only spent 25 cents on each, I am not too worried about it. You could go out and order the bottles special, or buy antiques online, but I think half the fun is the treasure hunt of finding them cheap or free...
  A bottle tree can be a real conversation piece and I look forward to enjoying mine for years to come. I hope this inspires you to make your own bottle tree, send me pictures when you are done!
  (see the little ceramic birds I added, just for fun?)