In today’s fast-paced, high-tech world, the ritual of a real Christmas tree captures the genuine spirit of the holidays. Decorating with live greens is an important way to connect with tradition, and pass the special feeling of Christmas along to another generation. The fragrance of a fresh-cut Christmas tree really sets the mood for an old-fashioned family Christmas season. As convincing as some of today’s fake trees are, a real, live tree has another dimension that nothing man-made can replace.
Instead of taking a fake Christmas tree out of a box and assembling it, why not treat your family to the magic of a fresh, live tree? Really fresh trees are clean, and aren’t a fire hazard. The most important thing is that the tree be truly fresh the day you bring it home. Ideally, you can find a local “choose and cut” Christmas tree farm, and make the selection and cutting of a live tree a family outing that everyone will remember.
If you’d rather buy a tree that’s already been cut, keep in mind that fresh-cut Christmas trees are harvested before Thanksgiving, and spend a week or more in transit. This means that you should buy your tree as soon as possible, and set it in water so that it won’t dry out. We only know of one retailer (T&T’s Garden Patch in Georgetown) that displays cut trees with tubs of water under each one to keep them fresh.
We recommend “pencil-pointing” the bark with a kitchen knife to help the tree take up more water, since the old cut will be sealed with sap. Trim the bark around the cut end on a bevel, to open up the pink inner bark. This is less trouble (and works better) than shortening the trunk with a saw. As soon as you cut the tree, set it in water. Liquid tree preservative can easily be mixed with the water, extending tree life.
We like Fraser Fir because the needles are soft and don’t prick your skin, plus they have lots of space between the branches. This makes your ornaments show up better. Fraser firs stay fresh longer: over a month with very little needle drop. The needles are still soft when it’s time to take the tree down, which makes the job easier.
Scotch Pines are also very popular. They have a nice full shape. Since they grow rapidly and are easily shaped, tree farms can sell them for less than other varieties.
No matter what variety of tree you choose, there’s nothing like the fragrance of a real, live Christmas tree to put you and your family in the Christmas spirit!
Steve Boehme is a landscape designer/installer specializing in landscape “makeovers”. “Let’s Grow” is published weekly; column archives are online at www.goodseedfarm.com. For more information call GoodSeed Farm Landscapes at (937) 587-7021.