Christmas in September?

I don’t know if it is the sudden return to near winter type weather or what, but I’ve been thinking about the upcoming holidays. Can you believe that it’s just eleven weeks until Thanksgiving? I can – it feels quite a lot like November around here today. With the dark gray sky and constant drizzle, the sun doesn’t have a chance to warm things up today. I’m sitting near my woodstove, wondering if I’ve ever been tempted to light a fire this “early in the season” before –  it’s still summer!

As I sit here, trying to talk myself into believing that the sun will burn away these clouds and I’ll actually warm up this afternoon, my mind has been drifting to thoughts of Christmas trees and the wonderful wintery scent of conifers and cinnamon and peppermint. The winter holidays always bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart, so why not imagine what my wife might like for her indoor decorating this year?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m more of a harvest my tree in the wild kind of guy while my wife prefers things to appear neat and tidy with a proper sense of order. I’m thinking about a tree that I’d like to find for my garden, but would make a great containerized live tree for our holidays. I’ll need to convince my wife that it will be a fun new tradition to set up and decorate our tree just a day or two before Christmas so that the live tree will have the best chance of survival after our holiday fun.

Pinus leucodermis 'Compact Gem'
‘Compact Gem’ – The perfect symmetrical Christmas Tree

Pinus leucodermis (heldrichi) ‘Compact Gem’ is the perfect tree to fit my wife’s expectations of tidiness while providing an abundance of wonderful holiday perfume for my pleasure. There’s just nothing like the scent of fresh conifer greens in the dead of winter to lift ones spirits.

‘Compact Gem’ is one of the nicest, most compact, neat and tidy, perfectly shaped pines available. Its green color is rich and bright – even in winter – so that it will bring cheer to both the landscape and the winter holiday indoor decorations. Its branches are spaced enough to allow ornaments to hang and yet dense enough to hide the wires of the lights you might like to string around the tree.

In the landscape, ‘Compact Gem’ makes a stately specimen with perfect symmetrical form. Hardy to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, even my friends in Zone 5 will be able to enjoy this one. If you need a hardy, somewhat formal looking screen, ‘Compact Gem’ should work well growing up to 12” per year while keeping its compact tidy appearance.

Yes, ‘Compact Gem’ is the tree for me this year. If I were you, I’d get to my favorite garden center early and have them special order one. Then I’d let them hang on to it as long as possible before bringing it home. Check out my list of suggestions for a successful live Christmas tree experience in my past blog, “Weal kwissmas twees” while I cross my fingers and hope for a return to at least a couple more weeks of summer.

Conifer Lover

Weal kwissmas twees

Yesterday morning I was sitting near the window of my favorite little coffee shop in the heart of town. As I was sipping a warm and frothy hot chocolate, there came a “tap tap tap” at the window and one of my friends and her little girl were waving at me – I motioned them to join me.

“Sure is cold outside!” my friend said as her greeting.

“Hi Mistoor Wems-a-wola.” said the cute little blonde with pretty blue eyes.

“Hi sweetheart – are you and Mommy having fun today?”

“Yes! We are kwissmas shopping and we are going to get a weal kwissmas twee!

I looked up at the little girl’s mother and asked, “A living Christmas Tree, huh?”

“Yes, but I’m not sure that we can keep it alive. I’m so happy we found you here today. Do you think it’s a good idea?”

As we sat and chatted for a little while, I told her of an old Irishman I had met years ago. This old fella was full of all kinds of plant knowledge. Although I had always enjoyed the adventure of hunting for and cutting a fresh tree, this plantsman was an advocate for living Christmas trees.

Fat Albert Blue Spruce
'Fat Albert' will make a great Christmas tree and a fantastic addition to the garden.

“They’re a little more work,” I remember him telling me, “but the benefit is that you get to plant another tree in your garden when the season is over.”

Knowing where your new tree will live after Christmas is helpful in choosing the right tree for both your holiday, and your landscape. One of his tricks was to dig a hole as soon as you decide where your tree will live out its life. He emphasized that it could freeze hard any day – so be prepared. Dig your hole as you would for any tree you would plant in your landscape, and then fill it with mulch bags, or straw, and take proper precautions so you don’t create a safety hazard.

He recommended taking a family trip to the nursery as early as Thanksgiving. The nursery should still have the best selection of living trees at that time. Enjoy your tree on your patio or deck until just a few days before Christmas – it is important that a living tree stay inside for only 3-5 days. If they are in a warm house any longer than one week, they could break dormancy and greatly reduce their chance for survival outdoors.

Place the tree so that it is away from any heat vents, fireplaces or other direct heat sources. After the holiday, if the weather is temperate, (upper 30’s – 50’s) go ahead and plant – making sure to water thoroughly. If the weather is frigid, take the tree into a cold garage or enclosed patio to ‘harden’ it back off for a few days prior to planting. If the weather conditions absolutely do not allow for planting a tree, keep it protected in a cold garage, shed, or against the homes foundation until it can be properly planted. Don’t let the roots dry out while you are waiting for adequate planting conditions.

Containerized trees will be the easiest to handle and the cleanest to maintain in the home. While the tree is inside, keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet. Using ice cubes as a form of drip irrigation can work quite well. Be sure to place a saucer under the container to catch any drainage.

Conifer Lover