I took a recent trip to the DeCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA on one of these gorgeous days we've been having. If you have never been, go! Right now! It's one of my favorite museums in the area and it's so much fun to wander and discover what they have. It's a perfect art museum for kids, as they are allowed to touch the sculptures outdoors, though no climbing is allowed as tempting as it may be. There's also many visitors that bring their dogs along. It sure beats a walk through the neighborhood any day.
While walking one of the winding paths I came upon Daniel Ladd maintaining one of his tree sculptures. Watching him manipulate the branches, I figured he was the artist, as it didn't seem like a job for the general landscaping crew. I asked if he was, and he seemed happy that I had made that assumption. Many others had passed, simply looking and moving along. I'm so glad I began speaking with Daniel because he took a few moments to show me exactly what he was up to.
Daniel's sculpture began in 1990. It is 11 elm trees, each bending to a 90 degree angle at a similar height, and growing into the one before it. Daniel said that he comes out 3-5 times a year to maintain the shaping of the tree sculpture.
Daniel cuts through the outer layer of bark, exposing the inside of the branches. He then tightly wraps them together. This time of the year is when it is best to encourage the branch grafting, since the trees are in a heavy growth period the two branches are able to grow into each other and become one. He also uses nails and a putty like substance to help direct the growth.
It was so much fun to see the park and it was especially nice to talk with Daniel Ladd. I plan on taking many more trips to the park, and you can bet I'll be paying special attention to the growth progress of Daniel's work.