Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Planting Tree

My project “The Planting Tree” is an amalgam of many artistic techniques as well as a representation of my desire to contribute to a better Earth both holistically and in a preservationist sense. The trunk of the tree is made from fallen limbs I've picked up while hiking local trails. Spending time alone in nature is important for me mentally and spiritually. To be able to experience quiet and a sense of calm without the affliction of other human noise or presence provides a rejuvenation in mind, body, and spirit. The twine rope is from the hay bales sourced locally and used to feed my family's horses. Hundreds of these twines are accumulated each year and while they will break down eventually if left exposed to the elements, giving them a new purpose feels better. The cans were collected over many weeks of feeding my cats and dogs, cleaned, painted, and drilled for drainage. The wood used for the base was re-claimed wood intended for disposal by a local pallet making company. Painting it to look antiqued gave it a pop of color and playfulness, as does the contrasting red of the cans. Organic soil was used to pot herblings and seeds. As these plants grow, they will resemble the greenery on a tree budding to life along its branches. Additionally, the layout and design of the Planting Tree allows for sunlight to reach each individual planter and many herbs to be grown along a vertical space instead of a horizontal space, an important factor when lacking acreage to create a traditional garden. This design could be used indoors during cool months and outdoors during warm months and it's lightweight enough to be transported back and forth fairly easily. I chose to use herbs because these are plants that not only provide an attractive green assortment, but are edible and therefore helpful to a human, more so than just something to look at. Additionally, herbs do not require extensive root system or large growing containers. Anyone copying the design or improvising it for their own use could certainly plant whatever they wished that would best suit their own aesthetics, and I'd love to see variations of my idea if anyone were to design their own Planting Tree!
From Start to Finish:

Spray painting the aluminum cans in the dark on my porch!
 Beginning to bind the "trunk" of the Planting Tree together with bailing twine
 Putting the base together
 Had to make several attempts at screwing the base together...
 Because this happened! Whee! The drill bit had to be cut out and thankfully the chuck wasn't damaged and the drill is still usable
 All the bits and pieces
 Starting to attach the planting cans to the trunk
 It's coming alive!
 Fully assembled! I'm leaving the clothespins on as extra holding power for now, even though each can is glued with a super adhesive waterproof polymer
 A closer look at the cans...each herb name has been painted on for identification...I would absolutely forget what was what 3 months from now :)
One little sprout! We've had such a late start to spring, it's hard to say how long it's going to take for all the plants to catch up and grow with enthusiasm
 An overhead view! Sadly, the Planting Tree has to live in my bathroom until it's consistently warm outside and then I can move it to the porch.

The construction was a struggle at times, with tools breaking and malfunctioning, the glue not setting properly, weather conditions inhibiting the use and drying of paint, the physics of weighting the base sufficiently to compensate for the height and angle of the branches, etc. It's still not as sturdy as I'd like it to be and when it goes outside, I'll have to tie it down to the railings to ensure it doesn't get knocked over by a wind gust. 
While the complete effect isn't achieved without the greenery in full growth, I'm pretty happy with how this venture turned out and I'm excited to see what happens with it over the next few months. I have some worries whether I should have drilled more drainage holes in the sides of the cans as well, as the soil seems to be retaining moisture overly well, and being in the bathroom doesn't help the humidity which sometimes contributes to rot, but I'm hoping it does ok until I can put it outside where it will have more air and sun. 
At some point, I will build another one of these, and the learning curve will be less steep the second time around!

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