Snowy fields and Christmas carols abound at this time of year. What better way to bring the festive spirit indoors than to adorn your home with a fresh-cut Christmas tree? Forget the nay-sayers and Ebenezer Scrooges out there; fresh-cut trees are gorgeous and can be very easy care. Enjoying a meaning-filled history, Christmas trees were first conjured by a monk from Devonshire in the 7th century, who held that the practice of bringing a freshly-cut evergreen indoors intimated ever-lasting life, holy beauty, and joy. Although less religious in nature, this tradition of having a fresh cut evergreen Christmas tree indoors during the holidays persists today, and there is little question as to why: they are beautiful, they smell wonderful in your home, and they are responsible choices for the environment, provided they are harvested from a Christmas tree farm (which is dedicated to growing trees for harvest.) Here are some of my top picks for fabulous, freshly-cut Christmas trees, based upon performance, longevity, and value.
Douglas Fir – Also known as the “Charlie Brown” tree, Douglas fir is typically the cheapest Christmas tree on the market. Tall, sparse, and light green with short needles, this tree does not tend to have very good needle retention, but you can buy an 8′ tree for as little as $35. Where these trees are often not a first choice for an indoor Christmas tree, they are terrific anchored into pots and set out on the front step and decorated with lights.
Scots Pine – A very traditional Christmas tree, using scots pine as a Christmas tree has been dated as far back as the 15th century. Sturdy branches and magnificent scent are sure to turn the most ardent appreciators of artificial trees to their natural counterparts. A small caveat emptor exists with this tree, however, as the needles are fairly sharp. Be sure to place a tree bag beneath the tree for easy removal after the holidays: simply raise the bag up over the tree and tote outside – no messy needles to clean up. A 6-8′ tree will typically cost between $40-$65.
Fraser Fir – Also known as the Cadillac of Christmas trees, Fraser fir has numerous wonderful attributes: straight trunk, thick and sturdy branches, dark green needles that are short and covered with wax (which makes their needle retention unbeatable – this tree can last in the house for over a month), and lovely scent all make this tree a top pick. Great for heavy ornaments (such as the ones young children make in school.), price on a 6-8′ Fraser fir can range from $65-$80.
Balsam Fir – Very popular with those that prefer a full – looking tree, balsam fir is one of the densest, most scented, easiest-care Christmas trees on the market. A relative of the Fraser fir, Balsam also boasts great needle retention. The majority of premium Balsam fir Christmas trees are grown in Canada; so well known is Canada for our Balsam firs, in fact, that you will often hear buyers abroad (from the U.S. and Europe) refer to this tree as the “Canadian Christmas tree.” The enormous and idyllic Christmas trees that are selected for Times Square (New York) are regularly Canadian Balsam fir. Price for a 6-8′ Balsam fir ranges from $50-$80.
White Pine – Prized for its slender branches and soft, wispy, long green needles, White pine is a natural choice for those that like to decorate their tree with lights and boughs. Few trees can rival the appearance of an elegant, lighted White pine. Price for a 7-8′ tree ranges from $65-$80.
Varietal choices, size restrictions, and budgetary constraints are all factors that families evaluate when choosing a Christmas tree. No matter what the budget, how high or low the ceiling, and whether you prefer soft needles or strong branches, give yourself the gift of peace and joy this season with living greenery indoors. As story-teller Charles N Barnard reflected “The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!”