Saturday, January 30, 2016

BOTTLE TREES: A Southern Tradition for Your Spring Garden


Have you joined the BOTTLE TREE craze? . .It's not too early to be thinking about SPRING PLANTING and GARDEN DECOR. . .It might be cold and snowy now but soon we'll have warm weather and be itching to get outdoors. . .A bottle tree is one choice I plan to add to OUR yard. . .
 
 
John and I spent several days this week at the early 20th century HOPSON PLANTATION in Mississippi. . .We 'lived' in a SHARECROPPER'S HOUSE for three days. . .Nothing frilly or fancy. . .but 'MAKE-DO' and COMFORTABLE. . .It was warm enough that we often sat on our porch and looked out over the entire plantation. . .Right smack dab in our line of view was this lovely BOTTLE TREE. . .reminding me of my intention each year to add one to our farmstead . . .Never seems to happen. . .but I have hope for this year. . .It's a long established SOUTHERN TRADITION. . .and one I would like to continue. . .
 
Photo by Eudora Welty, 1930s
 
The LEGEND goes that empty GLASS BOTTLES were placed outside the home, close to the entryway, to capture spirits (usually evil ones) that roam the night. . .These NIGHT SPIRITS are lured into the bottles and trapped until the early morning SUNLIGHT destroys them. . .It's a legend that was deeply rooted in the beliefs of the African American slaves who worked on the plantations. . .but one that  many workers adopted. . .Often the first thing SHARECROPPERS did upon arrival to their shack was to scavenge the area for DEAD TREES or large LIMBS to securely 'plant' close to the door. . .Garbage piles were rummaged for COLORED BOTTLES, the BLUE ones being considered the best. . .According to Folk Lore, BLUE is the most powerful of any color. . .Since that time, BOTTLE TREES have come to be a symbol of the RURAL SOUTH. . .Thanks to Pinterest and the internet, the interest has spread literally around the world. . .
I like this DELTA TRADITION not only for it's deep-seated history. . .but because they are FUN, ECONOMICAL  and colorful works of FOLK ART. . .
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bottles to trap those IMPISH SPIRITS aren't limited to trees. . .They can be placed around the doorway in a number of ways. . .
I have a board on PINTEREST with a few more ideas. . .Some of them are quite unique. . .
CLICK HERE to see some very ingenious displays. . .
 
Here's one idea we found on the plantation. . .
This rack is attached close to a door. . .Actually, there were bottles on either side of the entry.
Doesn't look as if a 'haint' has a chance to enter this dwelling.

 
 
After spending several days in our little SHARECROPPER'S HOUSE, John and I came to the conclusion that whether the bottle trees are for one's ENJOYMENT. . .or to ward off those IMPISH LITTLE CREATURES. . .the legend must be TRUE. . .We never saw a single NIGHT SPIRIT the entire time we spent at Hopson. . .although. . .I did have a visit from a GHOST CAT early one morning. . .but that's a story for another time. . .(a wink and a grin)
 
 
 


4 comments:

Blondie's Journal said...

I've always loved these===so cool and colorful!

Jane

Heide at ApronHistory said...

I did not know the story behind the bottle trees. Hadn't realized it was the old either! Very interesting!

lala said...

I live in CT, and several times a week I pass by a sweet light blue cottage with pale pink shutters. In the front yard is a bottle tree, although up until now, I never knew that's what it was - I always thought it was a piece of artistic garden art. So happy to finally know the story behind this lovely "tree".

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