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TALKING GARDENING with DOUG – Christmas Tree Fun Facts and Folklore

By Doug Hensel
Doug's Blog

IT’S OFFICIAL…CHRISTMAS SEASON IS HERE.  LET’S KEEP IT REAL!!

Thanksgiving has passed and December is fast approaching.  We are officially entering the holiday season.  Buying a Christmas tree is on everyone’s mind.  It is fun to learn some background facts when it comes to our fresh trees and greenery that we use for holiday decorating.

I want to give a shout-out to the VIRGINIA CHRISTMAS TREE GROWERS ASSOCIATION (VCTGA) for much of the information that I am about to share with you in this blog.  Maybe you didn’t even know that Virginia had a Christmas Tree Growers Association.  It is an active association with many growers being members.  In Virginia, we have over 4,600 acres being used to grow Christmas trees.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Virginia is # 10 in the U.S. by the number of operations with Christmas trees and # 7 by total trees harvested and total acreage.

Live Christmas trees have been brought into homes and decorated during the holiday season for hundreds of years.

Here are some more fun facts:

  1. The use of a Christmas tree, in our homes, come from Germany.  Germans and Hessian mercenaries were paid to fight in our Revolutionary War.  In 1804, U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn (now Chicago) hauled trees from surrounding woods to their barracks at Christmas.  The popularity of the Christmas tree then spread over America.  Charles Minnegrode introduced the custom of decorating trees in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1842.
  2. For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place.
  3. It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of average height.
  4. Franklin Pierce, our 14th President, brought the Christmas tree tradition to the White House.
  5. In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.
  6. Since 1966, members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented a beautiful, fresh, Christmas tree to the President and first family.  This tree is displayed each year in the Blue Room of the White House.

THIS YEAR, THE CHRISTMAS TREE WAS DELIVERED MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, TO PRESIDENT TRUMP AND THE FIRST LADY.  THE 20 FOOT FRASIER FIR WAS PROVIDED BY A GROWER FROM NORTH CAROLINA.

Are you aware of the TREES FOR TROOPS program?  Last year the National Christmas Tree Association provided 16,651 Christmas trees to military families.  The VCTGA provided 1,239 to various branches of the military.

So, as we begin to select our personal Christmas tree, I hope many of you enjoyed learning a little history with the origin of the Christmas tree. Now, here are a few important care tips to help keep your prized Christmas tree fresh throughout the holiday season:

  1. Check the tree for freshness.  The foliage of a pre-cut tree should be flexible when the needles are bent.
  2. As soon as you get your tree home, make a fresh straight ¼ inch cut across the base of the trunk.  Cutting the base exposes fresh wood that will drink up water.
  3. Use a tree stand that will hold a gallon or more of water.  Be sure to add TREE LIFE or PROLONG to the water each time.  These products help to keep the cut tree fresh for a longer period.  Now, if you want a home recipe:  take a gallon of hot tap water and add one cup of Karo syrup, 2 oz. of Chlorox, and a ½ t of Epsom salts.  It works!

After the season, Christmas trees can be re-cycled as kindling, mulch, or placed in ponds for fish habitat.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Everyone!!!

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