No tree, no problem

No tree, no problem

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Most years, we have the Christmas tree post here on Rant (here’s a great one); the topic is a source of mild controversy among gardeners, mainly because of the sustainability angle. It breaks down this way:

Just buy a cut tree
Trees are an agricultural product and buying from a local tree farm usually means you’re supporting a small independent business. The trees provide oxygen and wildlife habitat when they’re in the ground, a lovely scented focal point in the home, and then are recycled into municipal mulch in most communities (including mine). Win, win, win, win.

Buy a live tree and plant it
I have only one problem with this—where?  This won’t work for those of us who don’t have a few acres sitting around empty waiting for evergreens to fill them up. But still, a nice idea, if you can do it. A quibble—most live trees I see are kind of puny.

Buy an artificial tree of some type
Personally, I hate these trees and think they’re kind of gross. However, I suppose there is a sustainability argument to be made, as they can be continually reused. But who made them, where were they made, and what are they made of? The answers to those questions can really undermine whatever benefit these trees have.

No tree at all
Actually, that’s where I am now. We don’t have kids, so we have the choice. We do have three mantelpieces and lots of other architectural features that will take lights and other décor.  I also have several large houseplants that are just about the size of most live trees; they’re  tough enough to stand up to a little decorating once a year. So instead of focusing on a tree, I bring in bales of cut branches, which gives me the choice of many different types of evergreens—juniper, cedar, firs, pine, spruce, etc.

And then there are all the forced bulbs that are coming up from the root cellar now. I have so much stuff already growing in my house that it just doesn’t seem necessary to haul in a cut tree. But I love visiting the beautifully decorated cut trees of my friends and relatives.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on December 17, 2013 at 9:45 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet, It’s the Plants, Darling.

8 Comments
    • Laura Bell
    • 30th June 2016

    I’m allergic to something in evergreens – maybe residual pollen (which I know I’m allergic to) or mold spores? Maybe dust, though heaven knows that’s no stranger on my life. I don’t know, but every time we bring one in the house, my allergy symptoms kick it up a notch – itchy, sneezy, snuffling. But we still have a real tree. Wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the smell of fresh fir. I love seeing what each new tree looks like & stringing lights & decorations. I love that it provides habitat & oxygen until we bring it home & afterwards it provides an acidic mulch for my plants that need it. Artificial trees make me cringe.

    • Carolyn
    • 29th September 2016

    Try washing it off just before you bring it inside–gets rid of some of the dust and pollen that it may have picked up in the tree lot. (Of course it leaves you with a wet tree, but it dries off fairly quickly.)

    • Laura Bell
    • 9th November 2016

    Tried it – didn’t seem to help. Hmm. Guess that means it’s the actual tree, huh?

    • Lost Roses
    • 10th November 2016

    Love my artificial tree. For the authentic smell I load up on spruce, pine, and juniper branches from my yard to decorate the mantel and dining room table. Even though the kids are long gone from home I’ll probably always put up a tree for my grandchildren, and for me. A lit Christmas tree makes me happy!

    • Lisa
    • 11th November 2016

    I have a smallish home, so the artificial slim tree is for me. I am also allergic to the real trees, so bringing them into my home isn’t an option anymore. My allergies are bad enough without adding another irritant.

    • Margaret Wilkie
    • 13th November 2016

    Norfolk Island pine. They like their summer vacation. You can get small ones, but have to donate them to an institution with space to keep them after a few years in the north, or get a bigger house.

    • Mutantmule
    • 13th November 2016

    After 35 years, this will be the first Christmas without a tree. It will also be the first Christmas where the entire family gathered at our house. The boys are grown, married, have their own homes and families. This year, we’ll spend a few days with the youngest and his bride and then move on to the oldest and his.

    • Shenandoah Kepler
    • 14th November 2016

    We have friends that used to put up a huge tree in the main room of the house – can’t remember when it went from real (cut) to artificial. But as the children grew up and moved out, we do remember that the tree “grew” smaller and smaller – from filling the bay window, to filling the entrance below the stair, to filling the coffee table, to filling the dining room centerpiece. Then it “grew” to become a miniature made from glass with tiny ornaments, about the size of one for a large doll house. So we have copied them, and I take out the box containing a tiny tree for Dear Husband’s desk, another small tree for the display cabinet in the entry, and another one for the top of the piano. There! We’re done decorating, and nearly every room has a tree!

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