A table top fir tree.
From my gardening column 'The Gardener's Corner':The tradition of having a Christmas tree is more than a thousand years old and although many people have resorted to using artificial ones, (like us) a real tree is still a favourite. A freshly cut tree has a wonderful outdoorsy scent that makes the whole house smell good and contribute to the holiday atmosphere. Not to mention that an hour or so doesn’t have to be spent on bending branches into shape.
Buying a fresh tree supports Christmas tree farms where they continuously plant more to replace what the public and they, themselves cut down each year. Afterwards most municipalities chip the wood for mulch. The growers are conscious of the environment and eco system so plant species that are insect and disease tolerant and suited to the growing zone which eliminates the need for chemicals and supplemental watering. One acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen to support eighteen people and as an air filter they can remove tons of air pollutants per acre, per year. The tree farms also attract and sustain wildlife by providing shelter and food from the seed-bearing cones.
It’s a great family outing to travel to a tree farm and cut your own fresh tree. Back at home it is important to recut the trunk flat across by about half a centimetre because the water goes up the outside cells of the trunk and will need that full surface to accomplish this. By making a fresh cut, new cells for water intake are exposed, which if monitored carefully should keep a tree fresh for several weeks. The ideal stand will hold a minimum of two gallons of water and for the first week add water morning and night and then in the following weeks, once daily. If the water reservoir should be allowed to go dry, the cells will close over the exposed trunk and it will need a fresh cut again.
When selecting a tree, it’s a matter of preference for which type of evergreen to use for the holidays and although white pine is nice and soft, it’s hard to hang ornaments on and is more suitable for garlands. The Scots pine, although not native to Canada has been introduced by the Christmas tree farmers because it is a thick, hardy tree that holds its needles well and is pruned into rounded, conical shapes as it grows.
White or blue spruce has stiff branches, excellent for heavy ornaments and very prickly too to keep young ones and pets away from them. This variety requires a lot of water on a regular basis.
Fraser or Balsam firs are chosen for their durability to retain their needles and last a long time in standing water. Both have a heady fragrance and are distinguished by the flat needles as opposed to the square or rounded ones of the spruces.
It takes seven to ten years in the field to produce a six to seven foot fir tree that could be the perfect one for a family that wants the real thing.
I photographed the Christmas trees at our local florist 'Lavender Floral' as this is the first year they've used fresh trees in the shop.