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Monday, December 11, 2023

Crape Myrtle Arborsculpture in China is a Major Industry!

 I discovered a social media site in china and have started collecting videos of all crape myrtle arborsculpture. Wow just wow. Everything from chairs to gazebos from vase shapes (a vase of flowers) to a flowering human shape. The oldest is about 14 years old. Most are in the 4 year range. 

In my books I describe how to bare root saplings and shape them into things. I have not worked with crape myrtle but it looks like the perfect kind of tree. It can be grown into very long whips and transplants very well (hardy) it's really hard to kill. Best of all it flowers in red, white, purple and pink.

I'm growing a bunch of them and hope to propagate them also. Seeds and cuttings. I suppose I'll need to figure out how to get a single whip to grow from each root. I have puners and a few clues. 😁

Arrow points to one ready to bend into shape.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Old living fence found in Germany

The fence was planted in Germany around 1940.

Hi Richard, There are new pictures from the living fence. A reader of my blog was visiting this great arborsclupture. He also made some pictures of the leaves. So I can tell you that the species is Sorbus intermedia. But the half of the fence is made out of forsythia!

Find the pictures here: You may click on the pictures to enlarge them

Monday, March 15, 2010

Faux Arborsculpture

In Jyokoji-cho, Seto Japan. There is a park with cement logs. The fascinating part is that the depiction is of structural grafting and the heavy chainsaw pruning. Apparently there are other examples of this kind of cement art. Anyone know if there is a name for it ?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Really big leaves

From Anthony Crain.

Colocasia gigantea Thailand Giant Strain

Friday, November 27, 2009

Some correct planting procedures for trees, by Dr. Alex Shigo

Fall is the best time of year to plant a tree in the Northern hemisphere !

1. Select healthy trees. Do not buy or plant trees that have roots crushed or crowded in a bag or container.
2. Plant properly. Do not plant too deep.
3. Plant the right tree in the right place. Do not plant large-maturing trees near buildings or power lines.

1. Select healthy trees
Money is wasted when you buy or plant trees that have roots crowded or crushed in bags or containers. Check roots before you buy or plant. If only a few roots are crushed, remove them with a sharp cut.

2. Plant properly
Plant at the depth where roots spread from the trunk. Prepare a planting site, not just a hole in the ground. Loosen the soil far beyond the drip line of the tree. Brace the tree only if it will not remain upright in a moderate wind. If necessary, brace only with broad, belt-like materials that won't injure the bark. Mulch away from the trunk with composted material (mulch should not touch trunk). Keep soil moist, not water-logged, to the depth of the roots. Remove dead and dying branches. Wait until the second growing season to begin training cuts for shaping and to begin fertilizing.

Do not plant to deep. Do not bury roots in small deep holes. Do not wrap trees. Do not amend the soil, unless the soil is very poor. Do not brace the tree so tightly that the tree cannot sway. Do not brace with wire in a hose. Do not fertilize at planting time. Do not plant grass or flowers near the tree. Do not remove branches to balance crown with roots.

3. Plant the right tree in the right place
DO NOT plant large-maturing trees near buildings or power lines. Money is wasted when trees are topped or mutilated later. If a tree must be planted near power lines, plant only dwarf or low, compact species or varieties. Talk to knowledgeable people about the many choices you have for trees that have mature shapes and sizes that will fit your planting site.

About the Author

Dr. Alex L. Shigo is considered by many to be one of the foremost authorities on trees in the world. Shigo Died in 2006. obit

He learned that many commonly-held concepts about heart rot and decomposition and other theories were wrong. "I could either go with the book (theories) or go with what I saw in the tree. Either the books were wrong or the trees were wrong. I chose to go with the trees," Shigo says.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mark Primack's new web site

Mark Primack, Architect Santa Cruze
California, has recently put up a new web site.

Primack was instrumental in saving Erlandson's trees in the 1980's.

Mark shares a range of historical photos of
Axel and his trees.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Take a class, have fun for a whole week !

November 1st to 7th The World Famous John C. Campbell School of Folk Art will host
Arborsculpture- The shaping of living tree trunks.

Please join me for a week of creative designing, planting and pruning, study previous works growing on campus, meet artisans from around the world. Hope to see you there.

Sign up now call J. C. Campbell 1-800-365-5724


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Arbo-architects - Tower Made Of Living Trees

Research Group Baubotanik at the Institute of Theory of Modern Architecture and Design (University of Stuttgart)

"Basically, the tower consists of a framework-like structure made of several hundred young, only two meters high plants (White Willow/salix alba). Only the plants at the ground are planted in the soil, all others are rooted in plant containers, plugged in a temporary steel scaffolding"

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Awesome Visionary Illustrations
and concepts by Luc Schuiten

Friday, August 14, 2009

Elephant hides in tree !

Ever see a Elephant in a tree ?

This is not your fathers topiary !

Located in Myanmar (Burma)

Photo by Ray VarnBuhler

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In the depths of northeastern India, in one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren't built - they're grown.
The living bridges of Cherrapunji, India are made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree. This tree produces a series of secondary roots from higher up its trunk and can comfortably perch atop huge boulders along the riverbanks, or even in the middle of the rivers themselves.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Herman Block donates 2 living chairs

Herman Block donates 2 living arborsculpture chairs to the garden of Konstantin Kirsch
see Konstantin's blog (bablefish translation from german to english)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tree Shapers

Becky Northy of Pooktre offers this new web site Tree Shapers from around the world.
This site brings togther and reveales the larger picture of what going on in the world of Tree Shaping today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Three young German architects are designing structures made completely out of living trees, including a pavilion for concerts in downtown Stuttgart. But designing the ultimate treehouse turns out to be trickier than one might expect. see the photo gallery! more...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ficus house- Okinawa

In Bio park on the island of Okinawa, Japan, this Ficus shelter is the worlds best (a far as I know) example of a intentionally grown living house. A real living tree house.
I wounder who the artist is and have they grown any other works ?  

Friday, May 8, 2009

Native Americans

It has been thought that Native Americans bent trees into shapes that pointed to something important to them at the time – water, cave, stream crossing, boundary, etc., and that the early settlers for at least some time, continued the practice.  Here are a few photos of that type of tree manipulation. 

Others say that the Native Americans never did this, and that these trees are only an oddity of Nature.

 Anyone have a take on the subject ?

Steve Chyrchel, Interpretive Naturalist
Hobbs State Park - Conservation Area

Friday, February 27, 2009

Creations by Nature

Rooney Floyd, a friend and regular student at the J.C. Campbell School of Folk Art in North Carolina, found a wonderful example of inosculation.
He writes....
"Last November at your slide presentation, I got your book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am amazed by the art of arborsculpture. We discussed the man in South Carolina, where I live, named Pearl and you knew of his foliage sculpture work. I remember how among all the beautiful sculpture you had photographed worldwide, you showed some examples from nature and said they were your favorites. Well...I found one! See the attached photos. Three of us retirees were on a field trip in the deep forest along the Savannah River, on a dirt road, and I glimpsed the tree with a hole in the middle.

It is what we call a black gum or toothbrush tree (Black Tupelo, Nyssa Slyvatica in the book). It is on the higher terrace of the Savannah River Swamp in Aiken County, South Carolina, near Silver Bluff, a site visited by Hernando De Soto about 1580. It appears to be two 10-12 inch forks from a single trunk of about 20 inches in diameter. The fork is about 2 feet above ground and the two branches reconnect perfectly about 8 feet above the fork to form a single trunk again of about 18 inches. The tree looks normal and healthy above the reconnection. This photo was recently taken in winter and no leaves were on the tree.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wizard with pipe

I met a magician in the forest the other day. His name was Lucien, and he had a white beard, smoked a pipe, and invited us to see his magical arborsculptures,  he's been grafting for over 60 years! 

Fact or fiction only the wizard knows !

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Trees eating things- photo collection

Trees eating things, largest collection of photos I have ever come across.  Germany Language. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

just a small blue dot

If your troubles seam to be overwhelming you,  just remember how small and insignificant your life really is.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New on the web- From the Book

I have put the first two sections of the Pioneers. Chapter 6 of My book
Arborsculpture- Solutions for a Small Planet on my web site.
See Axel Erlandson's Tree Circus and John Krubsack's Chair that Lived.

Like Erlandson, now John Krubsack has his own Wikipedia Page.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Arborsculpture on e-bay

Here is something you don't see everyday !

A harvested arborsculpture for sale. This Guava chair was grown by Nirandr Boonnetr
in Thailand. It required 5 years of loving attention and is now offered for sale by his daughter.

You can find other listings on e-bay by searching the word "arborsculpture"

This is a unique opportunity for the right person to jump start the collectors market in a very very rare art form, that has just begun to offer items for the art market.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

J.C. Campbell

This years class at J.C. Campbell in North Carolina was the best yet ! For the first time our class had 3 year old arborsculptures to study and improve. Benches made in 2005 were looking great and inspired the students with examples of what they could achieve. The School provides an environment of folksy fun, good food and nice lodging. My Class designed and planted the Worlds First Ash love seat. Sign up now for this week long class and learn, hands on, how to shape and graft trees to take the shapes of your ideas. Arborsculpture at J.C. Campbell You can see Ron Hubbard photos from the week I was there... here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Living plant constructions- Germany

" The buildings are both aesthetic and innovative. They are not built on traditional foundations, they are planted. In living plant constructions, a still recent field of research at the interface between botany and architecture, trees are the architects’ building material. A beautiful example is the Willow Pavilion, which has just been inaugurated at the Botanical Gardens at the University of Freiburg. "

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Caption This

Caption contest at

My Fav...
Anyone can catch air, but how’s your hangtime?
Trees for medicine and urban renewal... New York Times

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Attack of the Sap Sucker

Attack of the Sap Sucker
Birds and trees get along just fine except for a notable exception, the Sap Sucker. This aberration of nature pecks holes in trees and then returns to drink the sap and eat the insects that are attracted to the sap.

With a tongue like a humming bird and the beak of wood pecker the sap sucker set it's table with a series of holes around a Birch and an Alder in my garden. Two of them are dining now, I tried painting some of the holes with Cayenne pepper. I haven't seen them drinking from the pepper painted holes, I just see more holes higher up on the tree now. Notice the hole in the bark at the birds foot.
A native Red Alder arborsculpture left, pours fluid from the Sap Sucker holes.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


I did not make up that word thank god ! Whoever did should be punished.

It means responding by growth pattern to a physical stimulus. It is a key element in arborsculpture. I'm sharing it with you today because one of my trees is showing off its efficiency in trunk building. While researching the phenomena, I came across a great web based tree science course, this is session 4 .

Two poplars were grafted together about 10 ten years ago. After the trees stopped moving in the east west direction, the need for an equal amount of wood in that area was decreased. Over time a concave shape appeared on the inside area of the joined trees. Trees are natures most efficient builders only adding material to the locations that serve it's structural needs.
The rainbow colored glass was added about 4 years ago.
A different explanation is offered by Bob Wulkowicz. "Transport Shadow effect"
The parts of the tree beneath the graft is shadowed and therefor grows less.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nipple extension

Nipple extension.
In the life of every facet (encased inside a living tree) there come a time, every few years when an extension needs to be added.
The first photo is from 1996. The second is from 1999 just after the first nipple extension.
The last two were taken this week showing before and after the extension.

Monday, April 28, 2008

David Nash

David Nash began work in the early 1970s on an “Ash Dome”
Nearly 30 years later, the work is now taking on the domed form that he had planned for and intended when he first began: David Nash's Ash Dome.
Photo from 2004
From Cornell University a web page on Tree Sculpture.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cathedral Grove

This Web site Rocks !
From the page...
Many writers, such as Herman Hesse, have described the primordial force of statuesque old trees in the German landscape: "Trees are sanctuaries. Someone, who knows to talk to them, who knows to listen to them, will learn the truth. They don't preach doctrines or formulas, they preach - not concerned about details - the fundamental law of life."

Monday, March 31, 2008

Time lapse project

Time lapse project.

Peace and love in Apple, just starting to bud out now. Watch this space for a announcement that this years growth is coming to a You Tube near you !

I'm making a time lapse film that will compress spring, summer and fall into a few minutes. I'm hoping to learn some things about tree growth that are not apparent from day to day observations. The bucket in the foreground was modified with a clear bottom and holds the camera and hopefully keeps it dry and operating for the duration.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Medicine for a too fast life

Arborsculpture is therapeutic, a garden art that snares the artist, first into looking at trees, then touching trees and finally into designing and nurturing trees. Along the way patients and her illusionary mother time are pulled out by there roots and added to the compost pile, destine to become some future now's fertilizer.
The entry price to practicing this art is to check your speed at the garden gate and enter the slow motion world of tree time. A place where your own
thoughts are as loud as the wind in the leaves. Where the tortoise nature of the trees creeps up from behind and beats the hell out of your hare nature. But its all in good sport and the lessons are invaluable.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Kansas City Garden Symposium

Left to right....
Yours truly, Jennifer Bartley, Dan Benarcik, Rosemary Alexander.
Jennifer is the author of "Designing the New Kitchen Garden"
she is a landscape designer, artist, photographer and speaker.
Dan Benarcik is a teacher, garden writer and horticulturist at Chanticleer, an innovative garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania where he oversees the tropical garden. Dan is a polished public speaker with a great collection of slides.
Rosemary Alexander is one of the pioneering figures in the world of garden design, has devoted a lifetime to her profession, running an established garden design business as well as the English Gardening School, where she directs the Garden-Design Diploma Course. She is the author of several garden design books as well as being an excellent speaker. I'm sure she would have had a much better time if the airlines had not lost her luggage !
So how did I happen to find my self in such esteemed company ? Just lucky I guess... Our hosts treated us to a night in the world famous Jardine's where we were treated to an evening of Ida McBeth.
I came away from the experience of being treated like a celebrity knowing I would need some larger hats and a desire to really start pursuing this public speaker gig! My Thanks to Powell Gardens and all the volunteers that made this weekend so fantastic !

Monday, February 18, 2008

Book Review- The Wild Trees

The Wild Trees by Richard Preston. I just finished reading this awesome book. Preston tells the story of a man named Kevin who dreams of finding the world’s tallest tree (and goes out in the forest and accomplishes it). And the story of his relationship with a tree climbing scientist and some of the first people to ever study the forest canopy ecosystem. The redwood forest has always held a place in my heart and this book, in passionate detail tells the adventures of finding and climbing the tallest living things on earth.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tree talk

The talking oak to the ancient spoke. But any tree will talk to me.-Mary Carolyn Davies

I have been thinking about how trees talk. I think that it’s probably not so much that that trees talk but some tuned in people can listen. Trees are nature’s perfect antennas. I mean just look at their shape a double ended antenna one end spread deep in the earth the other end spread into the sky.
I believe it's just a matter of tuning in to these antennas to hear just what you need to hear. What do you think ?

Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?- Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ivan Hicks and his Tree Tricks

This hardbound color book 116 pages out of England gets the "Thumbs up" "Bravo Bravo!"
I have just finished reading it and recommend it as the latest contribution to the field. This book titled "Tricks with Trees" by Ivan Hicks and Richard Rosenfeld takes a wide angle look at using trees in many different ways in landscape or garden settings. There are soft and hard styles in arborsculpture, the authors describe many of the simpler softer arborsculpture project ideas using drawings and photos. The writing style is not the typical dry English garden book at all it's almost witty with lots of attempts at humor.
I admit feeling some trepidation after providing the authors with the best of my photo collection. His treatment of my photos and his text overall was fair enough and I'm happy to have this book in my library.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Harvesting the boat

Six years ago Laird Funk (above) a neighbor of mine had the wild idea to grow a boat ! He enlisted a little help from me, as I had some experience in growing things, just not boats of course. Laird contacted a boat magazine and received a contract to write about the progress.. articles appear in Maine boats and harbor

The fateful day arrived when the boat was deemed ready, the first 3 photos taken on harvest day, the last was taken 6 years ago on planting day.
Happy Holidays everyone and keep growing !

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Plantware donation

(Ezekiel Golan writes )
Plantware has donated one of it's prototypes - the living bench to the children's playground in the "Shiba" hospital complex in Tel-Aviv.
Here are some pics from the installation and the donation ceremony
I recommend watching the slideshow (the interesting pictures of the bench itself are at the end).
Please note some technical comments - the bench was donated with the temporary template which will be removed when the roots holding up the seat have become thick enough and strong enough. The seat is the only deadwood part of the bench that will remain embedded permanently. The bench was designed with this in mind. It was planted in Revivim a year ago.