Artist Edith Deltgen reviews the thousands of hand-written messages in the Living Trees of Hope art installation in the Magic Bean Yard. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

“It’s unbelievable,” said Edith Deltgen as islanders and visitors to the Magic Bean Coffee Bazaar joined in recently to take part in her art installation project “Living Trees: Messages of Hope.”

Deltgen, an artist who lives in Columbia, Tyrrell County, and a number of volunteers spent two days wrapping trees on the property on School Road with thousands of pieces of fabric containing messages and drawings.

“People read them and started crying,” Deltgen said.

This is her third such project inspired by her own pain of having lost her three children.

Messages of hope. Photo: C. Leinbach

“I started the Living Trees because I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.

To raise awareness of the drug problem and to pull together as a community, she came up with the Living Trees idea to share her pain. Her first project was in 2016 in Columbia, Tyrrell County, where she lives.  Last year, messages festooned the gazebo and walkway in Swan Quarter.

“(Addiction) affects so many people,” Deltgen said. “Everyone has something. This project is so people have an outlet for their outrage and pain.”

Volunteers from surrounding counties helped cut the fabric strips and obtain messages from the mainland, including inmates of the Hyde County prison. A few visitors to the Magic Bean told Deltgen they want to do the project in their own communities, including the town of Manteo.

Deltgen recently added more messages from the Drug Task Force in Manteo and the Tyrrell County correctional facility.

The finished trees will be on view until June 30.

All are invited to view the messages and add their own with the fabric strips and pens available at the installation.

Blank fabric strips are available for all to add their messages of hope. Photo: C. Leinbach


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  1. Very moving, thought provoking. I wish I could be there now to share this wonderful experience.

    • Messages of joy, poetry,lovesongs, its all there too. Childrens drawings. It is still growing.thanks, E.)

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