2011-12-02 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Choosing The Perfect Christmas Tree
Commentary By Danielle, Danielle’s Rockaway Florist

Shiny garlands and sparkling lights are just a few things that come to mind when you think of a traditional holiday season. But what would Christmas be without a fresh tree on which to hang all of your heirloom ornaments?

There are a few small tricks to keeping your Christmas tree fresh throughout the holiday season. Learn a little bit about the tree before you purchase it, as it will help to know what to look for.

The most common pre-cut Christmas trees have very similar qualities. There is a much larger variety if you go to a farm to choose your tree, but as long as the vendor is taking the proper care, you can find a perfectly fresh and beautiful one close to home.

A balsam fir is very fragrant and will fill your home with a woodsy scent. They have flat, long lasting needles that are rounded at the tip and have a nice dark green coloring.

A Frasier fir is similar to the balsam, but has more dense needles. They also have a silvery underside to the boughs with strong, but flexible branches – perfect for hanging your heavier ornaments.

The Noble fir has blue-ish gray needles with short stiff branches and good needle retention. There are some spruces that are also available this time of year, but won’t last the whole month. The spruces don’t hold their needles as long as the fir, so I would buy them much closer to the holiday, as some last only about two weeks.

Finally, a scotch pine has a short bushy appearance with very dense greens. They have an olive green shade to them and a very stiff structure. When choosing a pre-cut tree, look for the best height and width for the space in your home. They grow in all different sizes so you would want to be careful not to get one too big or you may knock the ornaments off of it every time you squeeze by. Too tall, and you wouldn’t fit the star on top. Keep in mind that certain ornaments will look better on different trees. Some trees have stronger branches so you can use heavier decorations. Other trees have an open, airy appearance with spaces between the boughs which allows room for large or hanging ornaments such as icicles. If you are living in a small apartment or simply don’t have the room or energy to put up a big tree, there are miniature versions that can be kept table-top, and easily decorated with a few ribbons and balls to bring a bit of the festivities within a small space or budget. Some are even available as potted trees that you can plant outside after the season is over.

Choose a tree with flexible branches that are well hydrated. Very stiff bows that will break rather than bounce back, are a good sign that the tree will not last much longer. You can grab a few pine needles at the tips of the tree and give a slight tug. If they stay in place, you can be sure that they are fresh. You may even want to remove a few needles and bend them in half. Well hydrated needles will have a crisp break while ones that have lost a lot of their water will be more pliable. It is also a good idea to shake the tree a bit to see what happens. Of course, it is natural for a few needles to fall, but they should not shed very much. Before taking your tree home, have them give the trunk a fresh cut to help it drink. The tree stand should be proportionate in size so that it will hold both the weight of the tree and enough water, because if it dries up, a covering of resin will form and seal the bottom of the trunk.

Water intake will be reduced dramatically if not eliminated completely if you allow the water to completely dry out.

I will stress the importance of safety as it can be dangerous to have a tree that is not properly decorated or cared for. Be sure to check all lights and electrical cords before putting them on the tree. No wires should be worn or frayed. You should never overload your electrical outlets or use lighted candles on a tree.

Place your tree away from fireplaces and radiators, or anything that can cause it to dry out fast or catch fire. Sensible precautions will help your family to have a safe, happy holiday. You shouldn’t feel bad about having a cut tree for holiday decorations, as they are a renewable resource that is farm grown specifically for this reason. Also, keep in mind that you can use the dry boughs and needles as mulch for your garden after the holidays are over.

We wish all of our friends and customers a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season. At Danielle’s Rockaway Florist, we look forward to helping you with all of your seasonal flower arrangements, poinsettias and holiday decorating. We invite you in to browse our full line of seasonal gifts for family, friends and neighbors. Visit us at 436 Beach 129 Street, Belle Harbor.

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