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A monolithic undertaking spanning generations
  [vote for,

Braided figs and other braided plants, are intricately beautiful, there is almost a sculpted, architectural quality to them. When the trees are young, the flexible green shoots are woven together in a braid, and as the tree grows, the braided branches entwine with each another, forming a single living trunk which still has the appearance of being braided. I’ve even seen them with objects woven into them, golf balls and such, if the object could grow in size as the tree did, quite a large hollow could be created once it was removed.

Working with these plants in my father’s nursery when I was young, had me thinking about what a fully grown tree would look like if it had been continually braided over the course of its life or better yet several trees braided together to form a living gazebo. If constantly tended and trained, you could create geometric patterns, archways, and windows. The end result would be an incredible landscaping feature, but would probably take twenty years or more to complete.

This made me wonder what would happen if the process was taken further. . The trees I had in mind for this undertaking are weeping willows or baobab trees, whose immense stature and dense profusion of flexible branches would make for an almost unlimited amount of raw material to work with.

Once the original ring of trees has almost reached maturity, a second ring of trees would be planted around the first, as well as one or more in the center, each individually braided but also woven back onto the whole, and spaced far enough apart that their roots would not grow together. Again, twenty or so years go by, and yet another ring is planted and braided. Meanwhile the second planting will have become entangled with the first, and should also become slightly stunted and hunched from not being allowed to grow in all directions.

Ok, so the next planting is almost ready to be started. I am safely in my grave and my children have now taken over stewardship of this interwoven grove of willows, on the back forty. This is where my knowledge of horticulture falls short, but I think that if the number of trees in the second planting is enough to carry the weight of the first, then it should begin to lift the original trees out of the ground, root ball and all. If you have ever seen a tree just sort of nudging the foundation of a house out of its way, or splitting solid rock you will know that this is not that far fetched. The process could be accelerated by helping the trees to be uprooted. Digging perimeter trenches at the size the root ball would hold, and planting various, smaller plants would help stabilize this, soon to be airborne, patch of lawn.
Now the real fun begins, even though I would not be alive to see it.

Throughout the next series of plantings; walk ways, woven net landings, and rain shelter areas are created. Other plant species are grown from the root balls or grafted on to new growth for color, shade and support. Eventually, (say six, maybe seven hundred years later), you’ve got yourself one heck of a tree fort/ tourist attraction.

When I finaly complete my time machine, I'm going to take a week and grow one of these.

Willows for everyone http://www.westwale...vstructwillows.html
These people could probably help. [Ludwig, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Bonfante Gardens:Circus Trees http://thetimesink....es/Bonfantegardens/
And these folks have some experience with how to make trees into a tourist attraction, too. [jurist, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

How To Grow A Tree House http://www.arborsmith.com/treecircus.html
More about Axel Erlandson's amazing hobby, and proof that you might cultivate more of the Treethedral in your own lifetime than you've estimated. [jurist, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Growing Homes http://www.growinghomes.com
21 Dec 02 | URL moved from {Arborsmith's] idea. [bristolz, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Arborsmith http://www.arborsmith.com
21 Dec 02 | URL moved from [Arborsmith]'s anno but the link doesn't appear to work. [bristolz, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Toad Hall http://www.sbbg.org...news.detail&recID=7
Toad Hall at the Santa Barbara Botranical Garden is a two-story 24 foot by 24 foot sculptural "treethedral" made by Patrick Dougherty. It is made entirely of living willows, which have greened up since February, 2005, when the pictures on this site were taken. Be sure to click on the link at the bottom of the page for pictures of how this structure was created. [jurist, Aug 31 2005]


       With a sufficiently large base, I wonder if you couldn't add a layer of dirt and begin a 'second story'.   

       It's also worth pointing out that the trees on the 'inside' will die from lack of sunlight at some point.
phoenix, Oct 29 2002

       But wouldn't the trees on the inside be taller than the outside because they were planted first, therefore still getting sunlight?
baron555, Oct 29 2002

       I doubt the part about lifting other trees, as I understood that lateral branches stay at the same height as the tree grows thicker and produces branches higher up.
FarmerJohn, Oct 29 2002

       A truly awe-inspiring idea. For me it would be important to make it look as though it had occurred completely naturally.   

       I always loved clambering over trees when little, I remember Cedars being particularly well suited because they seem to develop 'floors'. Maybe you could use a Cedar in the centre as the means to access the different levels.
Ludwig, Oct 29 2002

       I wonder if it was intentional. As one scrolls slowly down, the posting to the left grows ever upward like the trunk of a mighty beanstalk.
FarmerJohn, Oct 29 2002

       In 600 years you'll have a large pile of dead and rotting trees somewhere, probably supported by young ones groaning under the strain of carrying all that dead wood.
PeterSilly, Oct 29 2002

       In the distance you hear the gleeful song of wood-elves...
RayfordSteele, Oct 29 2002

       Nice, but could you use paragraphs? It's kind of hard to read...
snarfyguy, Oct 29 2002

       My apologies snarfyguy, for the lack of paragraphs, I typed this on Microsoft word first, so that my spelling mistakes didn’t guarantee a fishbone burial before it had been read. I assure you it had paragraphs when I wrote it, but I guess that they don’t paste so well.   

       /Baron555/ Lack of sunlight should not be a problem because, for photosynthetic purposes, almost all of the foliage will still be on the outer edges of the structure, and the trees would have to be spaced fairly far apart.   

       //FarmerJohn/ “I doubt the part about lifting other trees, as I understood that lateral branches stay at the same height as the tree grows thicker and produce branches higher up”/.   

       The first lateral branches would have been braided together and have become their own trunk, then, the whole tree would be bent and woven into the first planting.   

       /PeterSilly/ the dead, first generation would indeed be carried by subsequent generations, that was kind of the point, eventually, the ones that lift the second planting out of the ground are going to be very stunted.   

       /Ludwig/ I don’t think different trees would be able to be braided together as they grow at different rates.   

       you need bobbles.
Skullhead, Oct 29 2002

       Mmm, a lovely idea. It reminds me of the city of the mountain people in Robin Hobb's Assassin trilogy. I don't know if it's possible but it sure would be wonderful to see.
madradish, Oct 29 2002

       This sounds like espalier. Some types of espalier involve the weaving of the branches of adjacent trees together to form a nearly solid wall. I have seen a driveway lined with an amazing "fence" of espaliered trees, woven with a basket weave frequency.
bristolz, Oct 30 2002

       I have planted 6 tree rooms so far and have found them to powerfull effects on some people. in most cases it's easy to see the potental that the trees will grow to become a habitable structure. See my web site at <URL moved to links> also see <URL moved to links>.   

arborsmith, Dec 21 2002

       [Arborsmith] - Your links belong, if they are personal, as in "your" site, on your profile page and, if they pertain to the idea and are not commercial spam, in the links section of the page (above and to the left).
bristolz, Dec 21 2002

       Thanks for the links folks. Some pretty crazy horticulture out there, I think I'll start on the gazebo this spring.   

       [2 fries] – May you live to enjoy the fruits of your labour.   

       Banyan trees would work well.
Shz, Dec 22 2002

       You could do this with strangler figs. Or prickly pear cactus.
bungston, Mar 30 2007


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