Tree Spirits: The ZZ Top Collection

Tree spirit front yord

What are the chances? On a small island like St. Simons, that not just one, but two talented artists, enjoy carving soulful and whimsical faces into the bark of oak trees.

Soon after our arrival here, we stumbled into the work of local artist Keith Jennings, and wrote several posts about his Tree Spirits.

Recently, we were contacted by another Tree-Spirit artist, William Denmark. And thanks to his detailed directions, we were able to find many of his fascinating works. One thing we’ve learned about Tree Spirits is that they aren’t necessarily easy to find (hence … spirits).

We enjoy this quest because it’s a good excuse to travel to areas we haven’t visited, and Bill’s spirits were no exception. Bill said, “Go to the Ace Garden Center by the shade house. Then go to Mrs. Bennett’s Bait Shop off the causeway, north side, between the two high bridges. At the bait shack, look left.”

Tree spirit bait shop

We didn’t meet Mrs. Bennett, but we did chat with her pleasant daughter. And now the real purpose of those isolated buildings in the middle of the marsh, is no longer a mystery.

Bill also steered us to some of his early work on College Street, which, for obvious reasons, he affectionately calls his “ZZ Top Collection.”

ZZ Top 2

Tree spirit FI

So a big shout-out to Bill Denmark, and our sincere thanks for the introduction to his artwork.

Happy Trails,

And if you’re curious, check our the other Tree Spirits we’ve discovered on St. Simons Island, Georgia USA.

The Watchers in the Hammock
Tree Spirits: A Great Excuse to Hit the Pub
Tree Spirits of St. Simons Island: The Search Continues
Tree Spirits of St. Simons: The Other Woman

ZZ Top 1


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

35 thoughts

  1. (Reminds me that they were my first concert in the late ’80s.) Hadn’t heard of tree spirits so I’ve learned something new today. I imagine you have to be quite good to avoid either permanently disfiguring the tree, or maybe killing it!

  2. Love, love, love your blog. You write so beautifully! I’ve nominated you for the Best Moment Award! Details on my blog! 🙂

    1. Congratulations on your award Aimee! What a fascinating gathering of people you’ve assembled. We are touched and honored to be included in such eminent company. Many thanks. Can’t wait to check out all these enticing blogs.

      Please follow this link to our Awards Page to see our personal response and Thank You.
      Wishing you all the best, Terri & James

  3. This is an amazing fine. The carving on these trees is amazing. Tree Spirits is an excellent name.Thanks for sharing.


  4. Gotta hand it to a place like St. Simons. In much of the US, these trees would be defaced (couldn’t resist the pun) within minutes.

    1. Pretty funny Tom. That’s like the hockey joke about a “face off in the corner”. It’s not quite your caliber, but it’s the best I can come up with on short notice. ~James

  5. You’d think with all of ZZ Top’s hits, and being married to a guitar player, I could think of some clever pun for this. But I got nothin’. “She’s got limbs” is the best I can do. Lame.

    Neat post, though. Both artists make the trees look so animated.

      1. Ha, ha. No, he recently shaved his off per my gentle request. I’ll definitely check out the You Tube video.

  6. The tree carvings are fabulous!! They make you smile. As I read the comments i had the answer to my question – who the trees survive. Vrginia

    1. Thanks Virginia. They are very cool, and both artists are careful to do no harm to the trees. In fact, Bill Denmark discussed his carvings with an arborist, and he’s careful to stay within the guidelines. ~James

    1. Thanks for the comment, and for dropping by the blog. The two artists here on St. Simons Island do a wonderful job, and it makes for interesting discovery roadtrips. ~James

  7. Thanks for the mention. I also carved a spirit for Mr Macgarvey at his rental property.
    Leaving the island turn right off the causeway. His rental property is on the left at the light. Turn left and left into the driveway. Between two buildings straight back straight ahead. Sorry I can’t remember name of road.

    Bill Denmark

    1. No problem Bill. Glad to help get the word out. We don’t live on SSI any more, but on our next trip down we’ll check this new carving out. All the best. ~James

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