The UT Gardens in Jackson are alive with color, but this summer, its not just coming from the flowers.

“The inspiration had to do with recycling and using found objects in the garden and glass bottles seemed to be plentiful.”

Plentiful is right. Literally thousands of glass bottles in all colors, shapes and sizes, adorn the grounds, which are operated by the UT Institute of Agriculture. There are bottle chandeliers, bottle lined beds, even bottle critters.

“We’ve made the fireflies with little bottles, wire for the wings, and on the inside its little shreds of iridescent gift bag stuffing, and then we fill the vial with yellow windshield wiper fluid that won’t freeze during the winter months.”

UT Gardens Curator Jason Reeves is the chief architect of the bottle art. He’s been a collector for years, and with donations from friends and community members, he and his team created this masterpiece. The grand focal point is a 40-foot wall of hanging bottles.

“Somewhere between 1,200-1,400 bottles on this structure.”

UT Gardens staff drilled holes in each bottle, strung the bottles on cables and attached to a frame. It took a week to complete the project.

“You could do something like this on a much smaller scale, but then the bottle trees are simple. You could use an old cedar tree like we have here or you could buy a frame and put your bottles on it.”

Bottle trees are not a new concept, in fact they date back thousands of years. According to historians, bottle trees were once thought to repel evil spirits. Nowadays, their mostly used as interesting garden ornaments and their popularity is growing thanks to gardens looking to add inexpensive interest to their landscapes.

“Society in general is very wasteful, so being able to reuse things we might throw away adds character to your garden and is good for the environment.”

In Jackson, Ginger Rowsey reporting

The bottle display will remain through the summer. The UT Gardens Jackson is open daily. There is no charge to tour the grounds.