Jan's Day Off: The Tree Bench - West Wind Hardwood


We purchased a Chinese Pepper tree about 20+ years ago.  The tree flourished and grew with the exception of some significant branches that didn’t survive this past winter; one of our many winter casualties this year.  Shelley trimmed them and left along the drive way; hoping it might catch the eye of someone for removal.  And someone did!  However, that person, being a true wood addict, thought some use could be found.  It took a week of walking past these branches before I came up with the idea of a tree bench.

This past Sunday afternoon, after “Shelley” chores J I spent an hour in my shop.  I used the ‘develop-as-you-go’ design process.  And one hour later, voila, my tree bench now sits outside the Flooring Gallery – Joel’s habitat.  Beyond Joel, it attracts birds…………….and other assorted folk.  In its natural environment, it’s the host plant for several of Japan’s indigenous swallowtail butterfly species.  We see this in the garden at home throughout the summer.   And the bench is quite nice to sit on!

Also known as a Japanese pepper and Japanese prickly ash; botanically it is “Zanthoxylum piperitum”.  It is a deciduous aromatic spiny shrub/small tree with a distinctly citrus smell to the leaves.  Wicked spikes!!  The plant is important commercially.  The pulverized mature fruit (peppercorns) is the standard spice for sprinkling on broiled eel.  It is also one of the seven main ingredients of the blended seven spice called shichimi.  In all the year we’ve had this tree; it only developed the peppercorns once.  Sadly, we didn’t realize we had a viable cash crop at that time, and every year since we cross our fingers.

tree-bench up close



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