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Pretzel, ladders and fantastic shapes made from living trees are evidence of what may be the most long term living sculpture in our unit. While a sod sofa can be made in an afternoon, a tree chair may need several years to take shape. Tree sculpture requires some patience and long term vision, but its results are often very rewarding.

For our on-line guide, we are dividing tree sculpture into two distinct approaches. The first is weaving, grafting, training, and/or shaping young, living trees into desired shapes. We will refer to this as tree sculpture.

The second is taking freshly harvested prunings, twigs, branches, or young trees and shaping them into woven art. We will refer to this as woven branch art.

Of all the types of living sculpture we present in this on-line guide, the first approach to tree sculpture probably requires the most horticultural knowledge and long term patience. Planning ahead to create a work of art that builds on the way in which trees grow takes both artistic vision and an understanding of how trees grow. Looking at the work of two artists can help you consider both. David Nash first began work in the early 1970s on an “Ash Dome” tree sculpture. 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.

Axel Erlandson’s tree circus is an amazing horticultural undertaking. Mr. Erlandson was an American arborsculptor who opened a horticultural attraction in 1947 featuring his uniquely shaped trees. The attraction was eventually named "The Tree Circus.” You have to see them to believe them!

Woven branch art is easier to create in many regards, since it involves the weaving and interlacing of flexible stems and branches. It’s a little bit like basket making, except that the branches are freshly cut and more flexible. Try our introductory activity and learn how to create a work of art with woven branches!



  • Garden Journeys with Terry Ettinger on Capital News 9 explores living willow structures.


  • Living Willow Sculpture. Warnes, Jon 2001. Search Press.
  • Making Bentwood Trellises, Arbors, Gates & Fences. Long, Jim 1998. Storey Publishing.
  • Arborsculpture: Solutions for a small planet. Reames, Richard 2002. Arborsmith Studios.
  • Dann Ladd Extreme Nature: Living Sculpture Tree Grafting - See how the techniques of tree grafting can create unique designs and shapes!
  • David Gosling: Environmental Art - The ‘Willow Sculpture’ and ‘Living Willow Sculpture’ photo galleries are a good place to get some inspiration
  • Bluestem Nursery - This nursery focuses on creating living willow structures and fedges
  • The Willow Bank - These willow specialists design and install living willow structures for schools, public spaces and private clients
  • Creative Willow - Photos and commentary from the Creative Living Willow Projects that have been constructed with the help of children and adults on school sites