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RBG’s treecycling program has a new member!

November 8, 2022

By Emily Sharma, Royal Botanical Gardens.

Over the last few years, the Gardens have carried out an initiative dubbed “treecycling”, where wood left over from tree maintenance or removal on the property and give it a second life as construction material, garden benches and turned bowls made by local artisan Ken Black.

If you stopped by the Shop at the Gardens in the last few months, you probably spotted some new treecycling pieces. These gorgeous, unique cutting boards are the works of artist and woodworker David Scola. RBG has partnered with David to grow the capacity for recycling harvested wood, and the artist shares his passion and insight into his project.

  • Close up of David Scola's name tag on a handcrafted wooden board
  • Two wooden boards with the rbg logo imprinted

Everything can be used

A professional craftsperson, David is based in Mississauga. Although he began his woodworking career over 30 years ago, it wasn’t until the pandemic that David pursued his craft full-time. His focus was, and still is, furniture making — his first teacher had a business restoring furniture that had been destroyed by floods or fires, and David’s passion for reusing materials is what interests him about RBG’s treecycling initiatives.

As he explains: “I enjoy the idea of taking something people enjoyed and turning it into a useful product to give it another life”.

Due to hazards caused by age, storm damage or disease, trees from RBG’s collections may have to be taken down. Although its unfortunate, through treecycling and artists like David, a flowering tree that was admired by visitors every spring can live on with another purpose.

Felled trees can be in many different conditions, which can make it hard to work with. In his approach, David also tries to ensure that nothing goes to waste.

“’Unusable’ depends on where and how the wood was left out. I look at everything as a whole”. When making pieces for the Shop, David will salvage leftover shavings and wood, saving them to be made into coasters or other small products. That’s one way he ‘closes the loop’ and make the most of every tree.

  • Wood board made out of scots pine wood
  • Handcrafted wooden board displayed standing upright
  • Two wooden boards with the rbg logo imprinted

Drawing Inspiration

Like Ken Black’s handcrafted bowls, David’s treecycling pieces feature the species of tree and its accession number, tying us back to the story of the tree’s life here at RBG.

When asked how he comes up with such distinct designs for his cutting boards, David shared that, when it comes to art of sculpting wood, “the pieces are driven by the material”. He works to maximize the amount of wood he is able to use in a piece, but still be attentive to how it can perform. For example, coniferous woods tend to turn a more grey colour, but in the case of the RBG branded cutting boards, the unique hue adds to the aesthetic.

Both David and Ken Blacks treecycling pieces are featured at the Shop. In addition to being beautiful products, their works renew the purpose of RBG’s trees while making use of a tremendous resource that often goes overlooked.

Sustainability at RBG

At RBG our mission is to connect people, plants and place for the purpose of nurturing and preserving healthy growing life on our planet. Our mission, mandate and future are deeply connected to sustainability – working to meet our needs today in a way that doesn’t compromise the ability of future generations to meet theirs.