If you haven’t picked out the absolute best tree or fresh holiday greens yet, don’t fret. Fresher is always better when it comes to holiday greenery. Here are a few pointers on how to choose, transport, and care for your tree throughout the holiday season.
Choose your tree and greens from a trusted source—somewhere that takes pride in seeking out top quality and freshness with fair pricing, and offers a great selection to choose from. Don’t be afraid to ask when the trees were harvested. The right answer is: shortly before Thanksgiving and then wrapped, stored, and covered out of the sun, heat, and wind. Take a tour of your options at the garden center and spin a few trees until you find just the one. I steer clear of flocked, painted and artificial trees for aesthetic and environmental reasons. Plus with so many naturally beautiful choices who needs them. Here are a few of my favorite holiday tree varieties.
My favorite 5 trees:
Noble Fir (Abies procera) Typically grown on the west coast, Noble Firs are sturdy and robust, with excellent needle retention and durability throughout the season. They are slower growing than most Christmas trees, so expect a higher price tag for the extra years spent in the grower’s field. Noble Firs are the deepest green of the firs, with very durable double thick needles – an uncommon, but fabulous fir.
North Carolina Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri) Fraser Firs are popular choice in these parts and have a faithful following that wouldn’t fathom having anything else. Deserving of this fanfare, they are often considered the longest lasting of the firs, have sturdy branching and considered by many, the most beautiful tree available. I make an effort to buy North Carolina Fraser Firs because they will exhibit a beautiful silver undercast to their needles.
Grand Fir (Abies grandis) is a Christmas tree that lives up to its name. With their dark green color and shiny appearance, Grand Fir needles have silvery undersides that reflect the Christmas tree lights for a beautiful effect. It has a powerful citrus-like evergreen scent and is, by far, the most fragrant Christmas tree.
Nova Scotia Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) King of the firs for traditional fragrance. I seek out Balsams from Nova Scotia. Balsam firs in that part of the continent have double needles, giving the impression of a much fuller tree without the need of excessive shearing. This means a perfect shape with plenty of room for ornaments.
Nautral Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) aka the Charlie Brown Usually Farmed right here in the Upper Midwest, these tall, thin, natural beauties are the real deal—without minimal or no shearing. If you want a tall tree, have lots of ornaments, but don’t want to give up a lot of floor space, this is the tree for you.
Christmas trees are just like big cut flowers, so giving them a fresh cut before putting them in water is essential. A sharp saw will do the trick or have the folks at the garden center cut at least one inch off the base before securing the tree to your car. After the fresh cut, you have about an hour to get the tree in the stand. Investing in a user-friendly, stress-free tree stand (I strongly recommend the Krinner brand) that will hold a lot of water is worth every dime when you consider a lifetime of easy tree installations ahead of you. Once the tree is in the stand, never let the stand of water dry out. If it does, the tree will seal itself off and will not rehydrate – so water, water, water. And BTW, no need for gimmicky tree preservatives, sugar, or Aspirin; just fresh, room temperature water. Once inside the house, the branches will drop and adjust, so give the tree 2-3 hours or overnight before you begin to string lights or decorate.
Scott Endres is co-owner of Tangletown Gardens and Tangletown’s Wise Acre Eatery on 54th and Nicollet in South Minneapolis.