Saturday, December 03, 2005

On Picking a Tree Part III

Part 3: Cut Trees

The traditional Christmas tree has a history going back to Germany. Trees were originally hung upside down from the ceiling - a tradition that is sporadically springing up today. The tree became popular in the Anglosphere when Queen Victoria was shown with her family around one. Nowadays, Christmas trees are grown especially for the purpose, with over 75% of American trees grown in Oregon. (Some Oregon forests are creepy, like somebody used a clone stamp on the hillside. Rows upon rows of perfectly matching trees.)

Is a cut tree right for you? Consider:

-That real pine smell.
-The ability to pick exactly the shape, species, and size you want that year. I have yet to see a good-looking artificial Noble Fir.
-At the end of the holidays, it goes to the curb, and you don't have to worry about storage.

-Allergies. (I know I keep harping on this point, but I have a sister-in-law who is deeply allergic to pine.)
-Fire hazard.
-The need to keep watering the tree.

When you purchase a cut tree, or cut your own, the first thing you need to do upon arriving home is to stick it in a bucket of water in a cool place, such as the garage. Your stand should be large and sturdy and preferably weighted; set it up near where you will be putting the tree but away from the wall. (If you put a piece of tarp or glide coasters underneath it, it will be easier to move near to the wall when you need to.) Using a sharp hacksaw, first cut any low branches that will be in your way - you should have six to eight inches of trunk clear at the bottom at least, and as much as a foot. Then cut a new cut across the trunk, because the initial cut will have dried out. Immediately immerse this cut in water and do not let it dry out; this will prolong the life of your tree.

For the stand water, you can purchase a plant life extender such as those that come with bouquets; however, all you really need is water, and lots of it. A cut tree drinks up to a gallon of water every day. Consider watering twice a day - more if you have pets who are drinking from the stand. A well-watered tree is less of a fire risk as well. (They used to put candles on the tree. Real, honest-to-goodness candles.) And it drops fewer needles.

Next: Decorating Your Tree

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