Recycling at its most colorful!
Recycling is one of the many ways gardeners care for the environment and every once in a while, turns out to be entertainment in itself.
Recycling leads to the occasional surplus of craft materials for the do-it-yourselfer. And … if you’re very lucky … something fun for your garden like blue bottle trees. Bright blue ornaments attract birds and bees and lots of curiosity … and a quick search on the Internet shows blue bottle tree mania is “sprouting up” around the world.
Nancy K. Meyers of Iowa makes blue bottle art from recycled glass she buys for 5¢ each at her neighborhood grocery store. The bases are made from recycled rebar, lighting rods, even surplus curtain rods … the garden hides most of the “stems,” she explains, but the details on the rebar are especially eye catching with lots of texture. Blue bottles can also be placed on trees and shrub limbs, or posts with dowels inserted. Wiring bottles so that they dangle upside-down is another way to use the “fruits” of blue bottle recycling.
Blue bottle trees are adaptable to many different climates … and how sturdy they are in cold weather, as long as they have some protection from high winds, and ice does not form inside of them.
What is the significance of the blue-bottle tree?
According to several sources, the trees are used to keep evil spirits out of one’s home. Tales began to circulate that spirits could live in bottles – probably from when people heard sounds caused by wind blowing over bottle openings.
It is believed that the spirits are dazzled by the colors of the bottles in the sun. Once they enter the bottle, they can’t find their way out, much like flies. Legend had it that empty glass bottles placed outside the home could “capture” roving (usually evil) spirits at night, and the spirit would be destroyed the next day in the sunshine.
Whatever color, shape, or size of your bottle tree, you will find them hardy specimens for flea market gardens that will give years of sparkle, animation, and delight as they reflect sun and moonlight.
How to start a blue bottle tree:
Where to find materials: Blue bottles turn up (when you start looking for them) in thrift shops, flea markets, yard sales, and recycling centers. You can also buy blue bottles with products like beer, wine, or mineral water. Specific manufacturers are Bud Light Platinum Beer, Skyy Vodka, Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry, Arizona Tea (salvage only as flavors are sometimes discontinued)—and antique Milk of Magnesia bottles still show up now and again. Nancy K. Meyers, a blue bottle artist, gets hers from a grocery store in Iowa for 5¢ each. Also, restaurants are another great outlet for empty bottles for recycling.
The “tree” part of your project can be anything sturdy and a mostly permanent of a fixture in the landscape. Occasionally, folks will secure the base of a tree with concrete.
Labels: Easy enough to soak and scrape off if they are paper, but if the label is part of the surface of the bottle, it will be baked on and permanent. Luckily many of these are pretty enough for most projects.
Blue bottles and beer bread (By the way it’s also great for conditioning your hair!)
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