Mountain laurel and rhododendron are members of the Heath family, related to roses and azaleas, that thrive in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. These trees are often found growing together in dense thickets. In the springtime, rhododendrons bloom with clusters of pink, white and sometimes purple blossoms. Mountain laurel flowers grow together in dense clumps of white. When these flowers loosen their grip, they fall to the forest floor creating a wonderful white carpet of petals. Both trees are evergreens with dark green, glossy leaves. Rhododendron leaves are generally larger and more elongated than mountain laurel.
Mountain laurel and rhododendron often fall victim to the process of clearing and preparing a home site. These trees are generally burned as waste. Reuse of these branches prevents them from being wasted in a bonfire and instead brings their rustic beauty into your home. The natural characteristics of these twisted limbs are a perfect complement to a rustic residence. Skilled craftsmen can assemble these branches through complex joinery into dazzling arrangements of rustic beauty.
The branches of mountain laurel and rhododendron trees are well-suited for use as a handrail or decorative screen. When used in a handrail, smaller diameter branches of less than 1.5 inches are preferred. The tops and bottoms of the branches are easily ‘sandwiched’ between two pieces of lumber for easy installation. Rustic handrails that are assembled on site by skilled craftsmen look as if they have grown in place. Pre-assembled handrail sections can be manufactured to length for delivery to your location. Thicker branches can serve as posts to support the rustic handrail to increase its beauty and complexity.
Mountain laurel or rhododendron branches larger in diameter than those used in handrails are available for use in exterior structures, pergolas, gazebos, bridge guardrails and plenty more. A rustic outdoor gazebo could have natural trunks for the walls and roof framing, smaller branches for privacy screens and even have furniture made with branches.
There are also plenty of applications inside the house. A grand, open staircase in a mountain lodge would be stunning with a unique rustic wood handrail. These handrails also look great on balconies and lofts in log cabin homes. Larger branches can be used in their unaltered state as one-of-a-kind interior accents and decorations. Rustic mountain furniture, from chairs and tables to bedframes and bureaus, can be crafted out of this versatile wood.
Mountain laurel and rhododendron bring natural rustic beauty into a home. Skilled craftsmen assemble sticks and branches of this versatile wood into many items including rustic wood handrails, exterior buildings such as gazebos and casual furniture that impart the look and feel of the forest to your home.