AWESOME!!! Check Out A 100-Seat Church Constructed From Living Trees • illuminaija

AWESOME!!! Check Out A 100-Seat Church Constructed From Living Trees


AWESOME!!! Check Out A 100-Seat Church Constructed From Living Trees

Looking for a perfect place to enjoy your sermon? While travelling the world, Barry Cox fell in love with architecture, particularly the design

and construction of churches. This fascination inspired him to design a cathedral of his own, except he decided to compose the house of

worship entirely out of lush trees. To make this dream a reality, Cox dedicated four years of his life to growing this rare church in his

backyard in New Zealand.

Barry Cox, who runs a tree relocating business in Ohaupo, decided that his backyard was missing a church like the ones he had studied

and admired on travels to Europe. So he decided to unite his passion for ecclesiastical architecture with his skills as a landscaper who

specializes in replanting mature trees using a tree spade.

After starting construction in April 2011, the Tree Church Gardens are now available for public visits and private events. The Tree Church

that can seat 100 people is formed almost entirely from living trees with thick leaves covering its shady interior.

AWESOME!!! Check Out A 100-Seat Church Constructed From Living Trees

Connecting his love of trees with a desire for an income, Barry started Tree locations, a business that moves large trees (up to 6m tall)

using a specially designed tree spade a huge machine that resembles an apple corer. Mounted on the back of a truck, it works by digging


down and under the tree to scoop up cleanly the whole plant, including its vast root ball.

There are only three such tree spades in use in New Zealand. “People know how much I love trees,” Barry told, “so they call me

when there are trees that would otherwise be cut-down or removed. I go and kind of rescue them.”

Trading trees, growing and moving them for clients deepened Barry’s connection and knowledge of them over time, reinforcing his decision

to surround himself with these stately plants. Rehoming semi-mature trees have enabled Barry to accelerate the landscaping of his own

property, giving it the look of a project 20 years in the making rather than just four years old.

AWESOME!!! Check Out A 100-Seat Church Constructed From Living Trees

“I walked out my back door one day and thought, ‘That space needs a church’ – and so it began. I cleared the area in April 2011 and made

the iron frame, drawing on all the research I had done over the years of studying churches. I wanted the roof and the walls to be distinctly

different, to highlight the proportions, just like masonry churches,” he told

he Tree Church was originally “designed to show how an instant garden can be created” using a tree spade, Barry writes on his website,

adding that the church and a labyrinth walk are “a welcomed retreat from society.”

However, what was once his backyard retreat is also now available for photoshoots, events, and has unsurprisingly become a popular

wedding venue.

Alnus glutinosa ‘Laciniata’, or cut-leaf alder, was chosen for the roof. The variety is flexible enough to be trained over the temporary iron

frame; in a few years, the main branches of the alder will become the frame itself. It was important to have a sparsely foliaged deciduous

type for the roof to allow the light in, especially in winter, otherwise it would be too dark for guests to see and the floor of grass would die.

AWESOME!!! Check Out A 100-Seat Church Constructed From Living Trees

The altar has special significance: it comes from Barry’s family church in Shannon and is made of marble from Lake Como in Italy, from

where his ancestors hail, according to

The walls of the church are Leptospermum macrocarpum ‘Copper Sheen’, an Australian tea tree whose foliage is thick and textured, with a

color that resembles stone. To keep it looking lush, Barry trims it every six weeks.

A ‘Dublin Bay’ rambling rose weaves its way around the top, chosen for the colour and romance it brings as well as for its long flowering

season the first blooms appear in October and they can still be in flower in June.

The church is set within a low border hedge of Camellia ‘Black Tie’, a dense hedging plant that requires little maintenance except for

regular clipping. At the pathway entrance a pair of wrought iron gates, formerly on the Cox’s family farm, set the tone for respectful


Perfectly proportioned Acer platanoides ‘Globosum’ rise out of the camellia hedge and stand sentry on either side of the gateway. These

lollipop-like trees do not grow very tall and sport bushy tops that require a little pollarding to keep them looking uniform.

Across the walkway from the church a double-lined avenue of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii or Himalayan birch, with their snowy-white,

lacquered bark, leads to a labyrinth, the design of which is based on the walls of the ancient city Jericho [a city in the Palestinian Territories


and is located near the Jordan River in the West Bank] in 460BC. Lined with mondo grass, Barry has had to discourage pukekos from

pulling up the freshly planted juveniles.

The Tree Church and grounds were officially opened to the public in January 2015, having bowed to pressure from relatives, friends and

local garden clubs. It wasn’t his original plan he just wanted to grow a Tree Church for his own enjoyment, and realize his study of

ecclesiastical architecture but when his nephew asked if he could get married in the church, Barry couldn’t say no.


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