Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Bottle Tree

Felder and a bottle tree at Disney's Epcot Center
The first bottle tree I remember ever seeing - at least the first one anyone explained to me - was alongside a dusty farm road alongside the Sunflower River, which snakes through the heart of Mississippi Delta cotton fields where I was raised. I was fifteen years old.
Since then I have photographed hundreds of these unique landscape accessories, from every state in the South to gardens in the Pacific Northest, Southern California, New England, Midwest, and even in upper Michigan. Plus Europe, South America, and Africa.
Many web sites now mention bottle trees, and quite a few offer them for sale. But most continue to pass around the same tired old history and lore, without getting into the, uh, "spirit" of what they are all about. This page - and my link to bottle tree history - is a partial compilation of many years of observation and research.
For thousands of years, superstition has held that bottles can trap bad spirits at night, which are then destroyed in the next day's sunlight - legends of "bottle "imps" and geniis in lamps originated in Arabia over three thousand years ago, and have been handed down through sub-Saharan Africa, up to Europe, and finally to North America.
For more bottle tree history go to my History of Bottle Trees. See below:
Meanwhile, here are just over a hundred examples of my hundreds of bottle tree photographs; all are original images except for three which were shared by friends.
ENJOY! Or better yet, GET INSPIRED!
Rural Mississippi Bottle Tree

History of the Bottle Tree
In Africa the kongo tree altar is a tradition of honoring deceased relatives with graveside memorials. The family will
surround the grave with plates attached to sticks or trees.
The plates are thought to resemble mushrooms, calling on a
Kongo pun: “matondo”/”tondo” [the kongo word for “mushroom” is similar to their word “to love”].
During the slave trade this tradition migrated to the southern United States where the slaves would place bottles in trees in hopes that the evil spirits
would go into the bottles and be trapped. Once the evil spirits were trapped the slaves would cork the bottles and throw them into the river to wash away the evil spirits.
The Bottle Tree Man has modernized this tradition with his welded wrought iron “Tree” base. What are the advantages? It endures the elements very well, and is removable and can be relocated. Most importantly, the Bottle Tree or Bottle Bush does not sacrifice a live tree for the yard ornament. The bottle tree is based on the belief that the shiny, colored glass can attract and then trap the evil spirits.
It is a beautiful addition to any garden. The colorful glass adorning the “limbs” will catch the light of the sun and will display a
dazzling light show.
My Story

I made my first bottle tree as a favor for my wife after I was inspired by seeing a milk churn filled with metal rods with bottles on the ends. She loved it, and soon word got around and I had more orders than I could fill on my own. I asked a long time friend to help me with the welding, and John Sabin accepted during 1997.
I started the website with help from my son-in-law in late 2005 and had immediate success with visitors and customers from all over the country. In the fall of 2006 John left to pursue missionary work, since then I have been working on my own with occasional help from family
and friends.
I have been having a great time supplying customers with beautiful trees for their homes and businesses. I hope to continue for many years to come!In summer 2008 we are delighted to introduce a new member of the Bottle Tree factory, Lee Stowers

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