An Alameda Garden: What Color Is Your Tree Trunk?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What Color Is Your Tree Trunk?

The LA Times has an interesting article about landscape designer Ted Weiant and his penchant for painting the trunks of his trees in assorted colors. Weiant says it began a few years ago when he felt that he needed to do something with some unhealthy-looking camellias in his backyard. He decided that instead of pulling them out, he'd paint them with blue outdoor latex paint. He figured either the paint would protect them and they'd get healthier, or it would kill them and then he'd take them out. Nothing to lose, really. The camellias did improve and Weiant went on to paint more of his trees, including a now all-green fig tree.

The article made me laugh a little, remembering some of the comments that were getting batted around a few months ago at Garden Rant regarding painting garden furniture. If some people have strong feelings about painting furniture, how would they react to the idea of painting trees? Personally, I find the idea a bit intriguing. I'm not sure there's a place in my garden for a blue or pink or yellow tree, but god knows, the camellia at the side of my house has been annoying me for a while now. Someday, well, me ... a paintbrush ... a spare quart of paint ... and a tree that can't run away .... It could happen.


  1. I'm with you--color me intrigued. :) That said, I think you may need some special paint, or at least water down regular latex and use it more as a stain. I say this because I cut down a willow tree last year to a stump and tried to first stain it red and then paint it dark grey. The paint eventually chipped off in a rather yucky manner... does he mention how he keeps this from happening to his camellias?

  2. The article only said that he used exterior latex but it didn't specify if he watered it down at all. Maybe the chippiness has to do with the type of bark and the overall health of the plant. Maybe a stump would be more inclined to chip because it's dead?

  3. This is going to make me sound like a butcher, but I actually chopped down a perfectly healthy tree so I'm not sure that it was actually dead yet by the time I painted it! *grin*

    You made me wonder, though, if it's because the tree in question was a willow? It kept trying to throw out new green growth, so maybe it just had too much moisture in it anyway--I am bad with tree growth/life but they do seem to be softer, wetter wood than most. Hmm.

  4. I remember seeing tree trunks painted white when I was a kid. I think it was to protect them from sunburn or something. And my grandmother used to spray paint her dead hydrangea flowers gold or silver. My mother thought that was unspeakably tacky.

    Me, I think I'd rather paint something else before I'd paint a tree trunk. It would depend a lot on the garden.

  5. When I was a kid our neighbors painted the trunks, too, Claire - isn't it for reflecting the winter sun so the trunks won't get hot and split while dormant??
    I think it was whitewash, which doesn't have much substance.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. Anonymous2:38 PM

    I recently spraypainted spent poppy pods hot pink and purple, and left them up in the garden. I love their freaky look. I say anything goes, and if someone gets their freak on with paint in their garden, awesome. :)


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