A Live Christmas Tree or Not…

Every year I debate whether to put up a live Christmas tree or an artificial tree. I have live greens indoors festooning the tops of mantles, sideboards, tabletops. Outdoors, I always put out our big painted Santa, a live wreath on the door and a small evergreen tree covered with winterberries that the birds will eventually eat. But I wrestle with the tree decision every year.  Since Thanksgiving day, I have spotted lovely Christmas trees through living room windows as I drive in the evening. I want to have ours up and decorated now, too.

The problem is I love a fresh tree…but putting it up now for me guarantees a dry, brittle tree with faded needles, drooping branches, dropped needles and decorations askew by Christmas Day. And when the tree is taken down, more fallen needles have actually clogged the vacuum in years past. Needles can hide in places that I discover months later. I’ve tried all the tricks to keep a tree moist. None have worked.

Every other year I’m certain I’ve solved that problem by buying an authentic looking artificial tree, but by the next year I’ve fallen out of love with anything artificial. I’ve given a lot of artificial trees away. One realistic one sat full of lights in my mother’s home. One is decorated yearly at my brother’s home and another one completes multi-tree holiday decor in my daughter’s home. The one I bought last year, a cute tabletop lifelike tree, sits in a box in the basement. I liked it last year but I can’t even bear to open the box now.

It’s definitely not bah-humbug because I love the season and go the extra mile getting the home ready… complete with music and hot chocolate all month-long. It’s just the tree dilemma. As the days progress, I know I’ll come across a perfect live tree that will smell wonderful and look great for days…. and when the tree is finally dragged to the curb and cleanup is done, I may be looking at artificial trees once again. Sigh…

19 thoughts on “A Live Christmas Tree or Not…

  1. Annie, I hear what you’re saying. Sadly this year I purchased and put up our first artificial tree, something I thought I would never do. I also hope I never have to do it again. While they have come along way in appearance, for me there isn’t the connection to my gardening nature loving soul. I’ll gladly clean up the fallen dry needles next year, in fact I’ll look forward to it. I bought a live wreath yesterday and hung it up in the room just for the fragrance. Good luck whatever you decide to do. Best, kim

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    • Some of them look so real, don’t they? My dislike of artificial trees must be something to do with my “gardening nature loving soul,” too. When we had a large property I bought live trees that I could plant after Christmas. That was great fun but I had to leave them outdoors until a week before Christmas. They would not be very happy in a warm house for the whole month of December.

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  2. I haven’t had a live tree in years – too dry, too brittle, too much clean up. I also want to start the season early, and I have to close the season early so we can head to SC. Live trees don’t work with my current parameters. I’ve also had a variety of artificial trees in every shape and size. Many my daughter still uses. I have two now – one beautiful tall one for when we are here and one small one for when it has to come down in record time. But, you would have chuckled if you’d seen me at UNH Greenhouse last week and at Wentworth Greenhouse just taking in the smell of the fresh greens and trees. I have a fresh spray that I made hanging next to my front door. I do love the smell and the connection to nature. I also love your header shot. 🙂

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    • I understand your need for artificial trees. Maybe having a little bit of that fresh spray might help me decide. Every year my hubby pushes for a day at the Christmas tree farm so he can lay on the soggy, cold earth and saw down a tree while I stand shivering nearby to make sure the tree doesn’t fall on his head. If we decide on a live tree, it’ll definitely come from the pre-cut trees down on the corner….

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  3. We switched to artificial several years ago when we decided we wanted the tree in the same room as the wood stove. They are in opposite corners, but it’s not a big room, and the heat from the stove would dry the tree out in minutes.

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    • That has to be a toasty room! One of our problems is also heat (not like yours though). We’d like to place the tree in front of a window… but beneath all of our windows there seems to be forced air heat duct. The tree doesn’t dry in minutes like yours. It’s more of a slow death and finally losing needles like a Charlie Brown tree. I think it’s the lights and ornaments that hold the needles on the branches! 😊

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  4. I write about this annually, but for different reasons. Some believe that Christmas trees are taken from forests, so I must explain that they are grown like vegetables, cut flowers or cut foliage. Also, I must warm about the live Christmas trees that people often plant out in the garden after Christmas. The problem is that almost all are Italian stone pines that grow fast and HUGE, and they typically get planted right up against the house.

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    • So true! But I still feel a twinge of sadness cutting down a Christmas tree. Oh, how I wish I could grow an Italian stone pine. I admired them all over Italy and especially in the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Magnificent bark… and pine nuts!

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      • There were a few magnificent ones here too, particularly the pair in Blaney Plaza in downtown Saratoga. Sadly, they are gone now. They do very well in our climate, but need plenty of space. A lack of space is their main problem.

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  5. We surely are enjoying our Mama’s artificial tree, and look so forward to retrieving from the attic shadows and decorating it early, with our wonderful collection of meaningful ornaments! It then comes to life as if we had just brought it in from the woods!! Thanks, Mama!!
    ps: Your mantle decor is perfect! Hi, Nancy Thomas Santa!

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  6. Luckily, the choice is an easy one for me because I am allergic to many evergreens. I can get by if it’s outside where there’s lots of fresh air but we used to have real trees when I was a kid, and I would get really sick until that tree was taken away each year. It took me awhile to put it together that it was the evergreen making me so sneezy! So… artificial tree for us! But I really do think real trees are beautiful and smell so nice – so I can see where it would be a tough choice.

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