When I visited Olbrich Botanical Gardens last month, I was completely charmed by this piece of art in the center of their Herb Garden. I checked with the garden to find the name of the artist who created it.
Turns out it was the work of Erin Presley, one of Olbrich's horticulturalists who works in the Herb, Wildflower and Pond gardens and is also a mapping specialist. She told me via email that the tree is a 'King Arthur' crabapple that is showing its age.
She noted that some of the tree's large branches had been dying off intermittently over the past few years. After they lost a large section this past winter, the choice was made to remove the smaller twigs and branches, leaving most of the main branch structure intact.
Erin noted the clay balls had been around the garden for a while and the copper balls were remnants of an art installation at the gardens several years ago.
She said — and I completely agree — that "they provide a playful foil to the strong architecture of the remaining trunk and branches." At the moment, Olbrich is having their annual exhibit featuring local, national and international artists creating light-based installations throughout the outdoor gardens.
Called "GLEAM, Art in a New Light," this art extravaganza runs until Oct. 27th. Complete details are here, including times and admission information. While those night-time art installations are quite dramatic and eye-catching, don't miss Erin Presley's daytime delight in the Herb Garden.
Next year this area will look completely different because Olbrich will be moving the vegetable plot for the Herb Garden into this space. About this change, Erin says she's "looking forward to growing vining plants on the tree; can’t you just see gourds and pole beans dangling off of there?!" Make a note on your calendar right now to visit Olbrich's Herb Garden next summer to see Erin's whimsical re-do of this old crabapple tree.