Gardener's Grapevine 2013.12.04

As I sit here, I think back over the past year’s columns and marvel that  there is something new to write about in a gardening column. Talking about gardening is a pretty broad subject when you consider that it encompasses nature on so many levels. It leaves a lot of topics available to write about.

I like traditions. Or should I say I love traditions. Anyone who is around me long soon picks up on this. It is not hard to start a tradition, all it is is repetition. We have a thanksgiving tradition that Art and I started 26 years ago. We get our Christmas tree the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. We get it in the morning and put it up in the afternoon and evening.

When I say getting a tree, I mean physically going to the tree farm and cutting our own. We go to the same place every year. It’s called Christmas Tree Acres and is in Camden over by Hillsdale. Every year we take a saw and trudge all over as a family looking at trees and trying to decide. Too skinny, too fat, too cone shaped, too tall, too short. Ah, just right. It sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, but it’s not.

Usually there are five of us in our tree selecting party and that is a lot of opinions. What most people don’t think about when selecting a tree is that it isn’t supposed to be perfect. Flaws make it beautiful. We have a large elaborate stuffed elf complete with wings that sits in our tree and is just right for that spot that looks like a hole in the branches. He is another Christmas tradition.

When I took down the ornaments and opened the light box the aroma of pine hit me. I realized the culprit pretty fast. It was our jolly elf who has apparently soaked up a little pine tar in the last 10 years. As I write this, said elf is looking out at me from the tree with a little metal sign below him that reads, “It’s that time of year again when it’s OK to be jolly and fat.” Well, at least for him it’s OK.

When we were trudging through that tree farm I couldn’t help but think of all the work that goes into running a tree farm. Planting the little saplings, water when needed, pulling old stumps and trimming. These folks have many acres of trees and I can’t imagine the amount of work trimming would be. Then there is being out there every weekday and weekend selling them. A person could get mighty sick of pine, I would think.

When they bind your tree they ask if you want any cut off the bottom and all the trimmings from the bound trees go into a pile for people to take if they want it. What a wonderful smell when all the different types of evergreen are together. If I had to sit out there all day I’d make wreaths and garland out of the stuff left over. Why not? It’s extra that someone didn’t want.

Reusing and repurposing is as good for the person doing it as it is for the soul. Real trees and wreaths do make a bit of a mess. I understand, but nothing beats the smell in your home. Hope you all have traditions of your own and that they include nature.​