The Guitar-Shaped Forest Inspired By A Lost Love

By Heather Ramsey on Monday, November 16, 2015
IDL TIFF file
“[Love] fills the world with melody—for music is the voice of love.” —Robert G. Ingersoll

In A Nutshell

Memorials for lost loved ones can take many forms. But devoted farmers have the singular ability to create artistic tributes that can be seen only from the heavens. Hidden among trees in the English countryside, one man created a 6-acre memorial with the shape of a heart in the middle when his wife died suddenly after 33 years of marriage. But perhaps the most stunning image is the kilometer-long guitar forest in the lowlands of Argentina. Even visible from space, it’s a heartbroken husband’s living tribute to a young wife who died at just 25 years old in the late 1970s.

The Whole Bushel

Memorials for lost loved ones can take many forms. But devoted farmers have the singular ability to create artistic tributes that can be seen only from the heavens. Hidden among trees in the English countryside, Winston Howes created a 6-acre memorial with the shape of a heart in the middle when his wife, Janet, died suddenly from heart failure after 33 years of marriage. He planted thousands of young oak trees in a meadow outlining a heart pointing to his wife’s childhood home.

Until a surprised hot air balloonist snapped a picture, the memorial to Howes’s wife was a family secret. The view was hidden from the road on the 112-acre farm.

But perhaps an even more stunning image is the guitar forest that stretches 1 kilometer (0.6 mi) in the lowlands of Argentina. Constructed with over 7,000 eucalyptus and cypress trees, the green guitar is Pedro Martin Ureta’s tribute to his wife, Graciela Yraizoz. Even visible from space, it’s a heartbroken husband’s living tribute to a young wife who died at just 25 years old in the late 1970s. Ureta is afraid to fly, so he’s never seen his guitar memorial firsthand from the air, although he has seen photographs of it.

Ureta came from an Argentine ranching family, but grew up to be a nonconformist who hung out with artists and revolutionaries in Europe as a young man. When he returned to Argentina in the late ’60s at age 28, he fell in love with 17-year-old Graciela. Their local priest was against the marriage because he doubted Ureta’s commitment to his young bride-to-be. However, the priest relented, the couple was married, and they lived in wedded bliss until Graciela died. Together, they had four children.

Before she died, Graciela was flying in a plane over the lowlands one day when she saw a farm that resembled a milking pail from the air. That sparked the idea of creating a guitar design on her family’s farm. Graciela loved the guitar.

Ureta told her they could do it “later,” but he didn’t know that Graciela didn’t have much time left. In 1977, she died when a brain aneurysm burst while she was pregnant with her fifth child. Her death had a profound effect on Ureta, who became much more philosophical, even studying Buddhism. He regretted not having fulfilled his wife’s wish to plant a guitar forest on their land.

A few years later, he undertook the project himself with the help of his children. After studying the instrument’s proportions, Ureta set out to make a guitar of cypress trees with bluish eucalyptus trees forming the strings. It took several tries, but he finally got the trees to grow.

Although the guitar forest anchors Ureta to the past, he finally decided to move forward about 20 years after his wife’s death. In the 1990s, he entered into a serious relationship with another woman. They aren’t married, but they do have a teenage daughter. His girlfriend appears to be at peace with Ureta’s grand tribute to his first wife.

Show Me The Proof

Featured photo credit: NASA
Wall Street Journal: Maybe Graciela Sees It From Heaven, This Huge Guitar Made of Trees
Telegraph: Farmer creates heart-shaped meadow in memory of wife

  • Hillyard

    Wow. This is so cool.