Well…that was last year. This year, the Hobbit House is definitely looking abandoned and forlorn…
Much of the dirt that had been laid in place is still there, even though the house itself is looking balding and unprotected. Its still a little frosty for even a hungry armadillo who knows where the golden treasure of earthworms can be found (my garden), so there is still a chance that this can be rejuvenated to its full potential. On the left of the house are my hydrangea plants popping out with leaves, and to the left are daylilies and lovage. The daylilies may suffer execution if they do not produce flowers this spring again. They have been there three years, and I have yet to see but one bud since I planted them. I can be quite ruthless when clearing out things that don’t work.
I was cruising around the web and came across a couple of sites that reminded me of an intersect between gardening and anthropology: bottle trees. I used to drive around the back roads of coastal Texas and come across these unique displays of folk-art. Before college, I thought them hideous; afterwards, I was delighted because I had learned they are actual remnants of cultural diffusion and not some gardener’s cheap idea of decoration. Bottle trees (in America, at least) are leftover evidence of African tribal beliefs brought by slaves to the New World – although it is also noted that folk traditions from Europe related to witch balls have had influence in this interesting tradition as well. Ultimately, the idea was to protect the residents from wandering evil spirits who searched for unwary souls to seize, utilizing a deception that would be to the disadvantage of said evil spirits by tempting them into a pretty little trap. Spirits apparently cannot resist clear glass, a substance that we today take so much for granted because it is so easily made. But for the ancients, so used to fired clay as part of their every day usages, glass was a magical substance – hard as brick but with a lovely clarity that on a sunny day cast prisms and color in what must have been drab environments. If the living eye could appreciate it, why couldnt the undead/spirit? So containers became a method of tripping up a predator that a living human had very little defense against.
So now I’m eyeballing a potential bottle tree myself. I have one bottle saved up already, courtesy of a lovely Gerwutztraminer wine we enjoyed one evening. Blue is the usual color of choice, largely because the color is so unique in nature – I would imagine people liked the visual pun of a substance that looked like water, yet had heft and substance. If one could capture the color of the sky in glass, one could capture the vague blue spirit of the Other World. And to have LOTS of bottles in your yard was super protection! I have also seen bottle trees with green glass and even yellow and orange and red. Glass is pretty, especially when light shines through. Why not make it yard art?
Note the blue bottle, my one contribution to a prospective bottle tree. Guess I’ll have to start drinking more wine? (This blog/site/garden a work in progress)