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Keeping your memories alive
By STACY STRICKLAND, Extension Cords
Published November 26, 2007
The Balogh family of Webster is shown in a file photo from Dec. 6, 2002, at the Ergle Christmas Tree Farm off U.S. 301, south of Ridge Manor, where they have cut their own trees for years. From left are Jesse, mom Valerie and dad John, Vonya and Victoria.
That magical time of the year is here again.
After Thanksgiving, our thoughts immediately turn to Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. The department stores, television and radio do a very effective job of reminding us that we really need to be in theholiday spirit.
Growing up in Georgia, I remember the Christmas tree going up immediately after Thanksgiving and coming down before New Year's. The point is, your holiday tree will be a part of your interior decor for about a month, so you shouldchoose wisely.
When shopping for a tree, the possibilities seem endless. Trees come in different colors and shapes. Some come with lights already on them, while others play music for you. There are different species of trees, whether fresh or artificial.
I am no interior designer, but the one thing that I know is that live Christmas trees will be a fragrant, attractive addition to your home, and there will be a mind-boggling array of choices. Some trees are freshly cut, some can be cut where they grow, and others will not be cut at all.
If you've made your mind up to add a fresh Christmas tree to the interior landscape of your home, you then have to decide which kind of tree you want. The possibilities that are common in Florida are fir, spruce, pine, Leland cypress and cedar. Each is unique. My recommendation is to get a tree from a local Christmas tree farm. There's something special about picking out your tree in its natural environment.
The firs and spruces will be pre-cut and shipped from somewhere up North. They are fine Christmas trees, but since they're not grown here, I'll skip onto the others.
Cedar is a very strongly aromatic tree that is very dense. It does, however, dry quickly, so you must have plenty of water for it to soak up. Also, if you have heavy ornaments, the branches will not support them. Likewise, the Leland cypress will not support heavy ornaments, and it drinks like a fish.
For those of you adverse to the aromatic cedar, the Leland cypress has very little scent. Pines will support heavy ornaments and have a very nice smell. Unless well taken care of at the tree farm, the shape will not be as pretty as the Leland cypress and cedar.
I particularly like the local fresh-cut Christmas trees because they support a local farmer and are more environmentally friendly than trees made of synthetic materials. Fresh-cut local trees are even more environmentally friendly in that very little gasoline is used in getting them to your home.
Another option is what is called a living Christmas tree - one that is grown in a container or balled and burlapped.
Drawbacks for living trees are that they can stay in your home for only a limited time - about 10 days - and can be much heavier than their cut counterparts.
Most of the species that can be used as living Christmas trees are best planted during our coolest weather. It's a wonderful way to add trees to your landscape - and create memories of the holidays.
Stacy Strickland is a regional specialized extension agent-agriculture/small farms with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service in Hernando, Citrus, Pasco and Sumter counties.
Finding your tree
For information on locating local Christmas trees, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture Web site at www.florida-agriculture.com/consumers/christmas_trees.htm or the Florida Christmas Tree Association site at www.flchristmastrees.com/. Also, you may call the Hernando County Cooperative Extension Service at (352) 754-4433 or the Pasco County Cooperative Extension Service at (352) 521-4288, (727) 847-8177 or (813) 996-7341 for help in finding local Christmas tree growers or for information on planting a living tree.