Creating the “Perfect” Christmas Tree

Prior year's Christmas treeIt’s the age-old debate: “real” or “live” tree or artificial? And while I won’t go on to discuss how choosing the live tree is the sustainable choice (I’ve done that in other years and you can read those posts here and here), I will say that at my house, it’s not an either/or.  I’ve always preferred live trees, even with my allergies (it’s not as if my allergies go away in the winter so a live tree really doesn’t aggravate me as  much as it might some with only seasonal allergies) and that’s what I get each year.

And, for an excellent article by a Colorado landscaper on live Christmas trees and their care, read this from the Vail Daily.

The Spoiler, on the other hand, had an artificial tree long before I knew him and he drags that out every year.  It’s old enough that it’s long outlived its “unsustainable” label.  I can’t go near the thing to help him set it up, however, because it’s too dusty for me and aggravates my allergies far worse than a real one does.  Bet that’s the first time you’ve heard that artificial trees are worse for allergies than real.  It all depends on how severe your “indoor” allergies are and supposedly I tested “off the charts” for dust.  Delightful.

With that little bit of TMI, we can now go on to discuss the growing of Christmas trees.  A recent article in the New York Times showcased the work being done in Washington State on Christmas tree growth, needle retention and other things important to the Christmas Tree trade (who knew?).

Of course, needle retention is probably the first thing that I, as a consumer, is concerned about.  But the growers are actually working on a lot of other issues as well, such as branch development and moisture retention.  Of course these would be important, particularly this year when the Christmas season is a week longer than in most years.  For those putting a cut tree up the day after Thanksgiving, as many do, moisture retention could be equally important so that the tree doesn’t dry out and become a fire hazard.

As for branch placement & growth, the one advantage a “live” tree doesn’t have is the ability to arrange the branches by bending the wires as you can do on an artificial one.

Some perfectionists will actually trim out branches and wire branches back in–or even drill holes in the trunk to insert more branches.

As for me, I take the tree as “nature” gave it to me and work with it that way (never mind that I don’t have time (or interest) for wiring and drilling!).

Once it’s lit and decorated, it always looks lovely.

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