Friday, December 02, 2005

On Picking a Tree Part II

Part 2: Living Christmas Trees

A living tree, or a potted tree, is another option for those seeking a tree. They range in size from desktop to person-height, and have many of the advantages of both the fresh-cut tree and the artificial tree. Consider:

-You don't kill a tree.
-That fresh pine scent.
-Works for years.
-You get greenery year-round.

-You have to take care of it year-round.
-After a few years, it loses its shape, sometimes drastically.
-After a few years it may also need to be repotted or planted.

The most common live tree that I've seen is the Italian Stone Pine. From experience, my family calls it the Italian Stoned Pine. When small, its branches have single needles, like a fir tree; as they get larger, they have longer twinned needles, like the pine that it is. One such tree that we had lost its shape so dramatically that it looked like it fell over drunk; we tried to plant it but I'm afraid it died.

Italian Stone Pines get enormous if not checked; if you want to plant it outdoors you had better have an acre or two of property to shade. I'm not kidding.

You may also see some "trees" that are shaped herbs in pots, such as rosemary. These will only be good for the one season unless you are a bonsai master, but otherwise you've got a nice rosemary bush.

Some stores and catalogs sell pre-decorated live trees. That is an ideal gift for someone who loves Christmas but is unable to decorate; sometimes you can see them in nursing homes. They tend to sell out, so if that sort of gift appeals to you, don't delay.

Next: Cut Trees

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