Monday, January 08, 2007

Live Holiday Trees

Yesterday we packed up all the winter holiday decorations and stored them away for another year. One thing we didn’t have to worry about was stuffing the holiday tree into the recycle bin, because this year we had a live tree.

January is the perfect time to be thinking about a live tree for next year. Trees that were too small or just didn’t find homes are now reduced for clearance. Last year, I purchased two small spruces for $ 5.00 each.

While my little trees were still too small for this year, they are growing well. Because they are in pots, I can move them around in the yard to find the best seasonal location. Growing under my care in an organic backyard, these future holiday trees are not sprayed with insecticide or chemicals. When they come into my house, I know what they bring with them.

Have there occasionally been insects on the trees? Yes, and when insects are apparent, I move the trees into an open area where the birds frequent. Our native titmouse, bushtits and ruby-crowned kinglets are more than happy to scour the trees of bugs.

This fall we did purchase a larger tree, a six-foot Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens glauca). Weighing over 200 lbs. in its large black plastic tub, the tree had to be slid on a ramp into the house, but it was well worth the extra effort. Instead of a gradually drying dead tree, our living tree delighted us and our visitors with brilliant green growth. It was amazing to watch the unfurling buds at the tip of each branch.

Tomorrow, the blue spruce will go back outside with its smaller brethren I’ll miss it greeting me each morning when I come downstairs. My grove of living holiday trees are not just winter decorations, they have become members of the family. Each species is slightly different in color, stature and texture, but when they come into the house, they all succeed in bringing the outdoors in.

Some of our growing holiday trees:
  • Giant sequoia (Sequoia gigantea); seed from 2000, a mighty giant in its infancy (10 inches tall, 3 inches growth in a year)

  • Black Hills spruce (Picea glauca ‘Densata’) spruce with somewhat soft, deep green needles; growing well (22.5 inches tall, 4 inches in a year)

  • Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) short stiff needles; not growing robustly (22.5 inches tall, 1.5 inches in a year)

  • Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens glauca); beautiful blue green with chartreuse new growth (6 feet tall); this year's Holiday tree in the house.

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