It’s the time of year to start talking about Christmas Trees. Although given the unseasonably mild weather we are having it may tough for some to get into the spirit. Let’s give it a try! Here is a guide to help you select the perfect tree for this Christmas from Van Wilgen’s.
- Needles are short dark green with a silver underside.
- Soft to the touch.
- Very fragrant with excellent needle retention.
- Branches are strong, great for heavy ornaments.
- Needles are long light green in color
- Soft to the touch
- Very full in shape
- Extremely fragrant- it smells like oranges!
- Best needle retention
- Needles are deep blue in color
- Sharp to the touch…Kids & Pets be careful!
- Strongest branches…Perfect for heavy ornaments
- Pleasant fragrance
- Good needle retention
- A Van Wilgen Favorite!
- Needles are dark green with a silver underside.
- Needles are larger and showier than the Fraser Fir.
- Soft to the touch.
- Best fragrance and needle retention.
- Sturdy branches are perfect for heavy ornaments.
It’s that time of year again. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle that accompanies the holiday season, we somehow manage to find the time to continue the time-honored tradition of selecting and decorating the perfect Christmas tree. But after we have found that perfect tree, what to do next? How do we make sure that our “perfect” tree continues to look perfect through the holiday season? This is a common question for us here at Van Wilgen’s, and I would like to go over some very simple steps for keeping your cut tree looking its finest.
It is important to note that this article deals specifically with cut trees. We would be more than happy to assist you with any live tree (roots still attached) care at any one of our four locations. Before I list the steps that I recommend for keeping your tree looking its best, it may help to think of a cut tree like a large bouquet of flowers. Many of the practices we employ with our care of a vase of freshly cut flowers transfer over to our care of cut Christmas trees. Try these tips and I have no doubt you will be enjoying that perfect tree through the holiday season!
- Choose a stand that is large enough for your tree. Shaving down the bark to get the tree to fit is bad practice. Those outer layers of bark are the best at absorbing water, which is the most important part of keeping our tree fresh!
- Have a fresh cut done before putting the tree into the stand. This increases the water absorption capability of the tree.
- Get your tree in water AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after making this cut. Keep the cut free of dirt. This is the most critical point. The sooner you can get the tree into the water, the better.
- If you are not putting the tree into a stand immediately after the fresh-cut, it’s ok! Just be sure to put that tree into a bucket of water until you are ready to put it up!
- After your tree is in the stand, keep it full of water. Your tree will generally “drink” the most water within the first few days of being set up. It is critical that the stand remains full of water so check often! At the very least, check daily throughout the holiday season.
- Drilling a hole in the base of the tree does NOT help with water uptake.
- The temperature of the water that is added to the stand does NOT make a difference. Also, never add anything to the water to preserve freshness other than products specifically formulated to do so. Prolong is a good example of one. Using “home” remedies from the internet has no effect at best, and at worst may hasten the decline of the tree!
- Try to keep the tree away from direct heat sources whenever possible. For example, away from heat vents/registers, fireplaces, direct sunlight, space heaters, etc. Also, use lights that produce less heat such as L.E.D.’s. This has the added benefit of less energy consumption and longer life. Both of which are better for the environment!
In the end, it is all about maintaining and keeping moisture in your tree. If you take the steps to get your tree into water as soon as you can after the fresh-cut and keep the water in your stand full at all times, you will have that perfect Christmas tree looking its best through the holiday season! We hope you have the very best and brightest holiday season! And we look forward to seeing you soon!
Each year as the cooler temps roll in I stock up on a few things for our feathered friends. I know it may seem somewhat dull but I really do enjoy watching the birds visit each morning. Year after year it seems I appreciate the calm natural beauty they bring to my yard more and more.
Bird feeders can deepen our connection with birds, and also supplement natural food in the toughest months. At the garden center we get asked often….what do you feed them? Personally, I recommend a mix of suet cakes and traditional birdseed that I add to my feeders. Bugs, Nuts & Fruit Suet Cakes are a favorite in my backyard and the suet gives birds a much-needed energy & protein boost during our winter months. Wild Delight bird seed is the perfect compliment to suet cakes. Birds flock to their favorite Nut & Berry and Bugs n’ Berry flavors. Not only are you giving them much-needed nourishment but you get to enjoy watching our beautiful, winter friends, bird lovers rejoice!
When it comes to birdhouses, I always choose a spot close to the safety of evergreen cover, if possible, or at least twiggy shrubbery, but not so close that squirrels can leap across and have at it.
This year I have my eye on an adorable wooden birdhouse covered in birdseed. Once the seed is consumed your birds may nest in this durable house for seasons to come. How simple is that! However, you may be like me and enjoy something more unique too. At Van Wilgen’s we now have handcrafted birdhouses made from recycled wood and metal from weathered barns and houses in Illinois. One is more beautiful and unique than the next. They are meant for outside, however, a lot of times they can also become a work of art for your home.
Now is a great time of year to make your birds happy and healthy. If you have any questions about caring for birds in your back yard give us a call or stop in, we are always here to help.
One of the most common questions we get here in the fall at Van Wilgen’s is, “Why are my pines turning yellow? Are they sick?” The answer is, thankfully, no. All trees and shrubs renew their foliage annually in the spring and summer and shed old, unneeded foliage in the fall. While this is most apparent on deciduous trees and shrubs, such as maples and hydrangeas, which shed the entirety of their foliage annually, evergreens like pines, spruces, and holly shed as well as a part of their regular life cycle. Most evergreens hold their needles or leaves for two to three years before shedding, so what you are seeing is actually evidence that your tree is growing, thriving, and aging normally.
We have so few fall days to get outside and enjoy the little bit of warmer weather we have left. Grab the whole family and finish up the last of the fall chores together. Working as a family will make all the work seem lighter. Heck, have some fun while you do it. And…of course, enjoy some pizza and your favorite beverage when all done!
THE LITTLE ONE’S TO-DO LIST:
- Help mom & dad rake up leaves.
- Jump in leaf piles just raked up by mom & dad.
- Rake leaf piles again.
- Keep the dog out of the newly raked leaf piles.
- Dig up all summer bulbs such as gladiolus, cannas, callas, and begonias if mom has not done it already.
- Take several breaks to check Snapchat & Instagram. After all, what would fall clean-up be without social media to document it?!
- Clean out all the old veggies from the vegetable garden so mom can get going with the final veggie garden steps.
- Help dad with pruning out all the brittle, dead wood from the smaller shrubs around the foundation.
- Help mom cut back most of the perennial flowers. There are a few exceptions that you should leave to prune in the spring such as Russian Sage, Ornamental grasses & Roses. If you cut them now, mom might yell at you. (I forgot, us moms never yell)
- Complain a little that you are tired and hungry. Stand in the kitchen with the refrigerator door open, stare at it, and hope a snack will jump into your mouth.
- Tie up ornamental grasses (optional) if you want them to be easier for dad to cut back in the early spring.
MOM & DAD:
- Your little ones took all that time to rake & jump in the leaves, so now it’s time to give the lawn its last mow of the year. Mow it shorter than 3 inches but do not scalp!
- Put down Fall Lawn Fertilizer. So important. Do not forget this last step, multi-tasking moms & dads.
- Apply lime on your lawn & cleaned up veggie garden. You will have the best yard on the block with the proper pH.
- Don’t just feed your children. Feed your plants too! Fertilize trees & shrubs now!
- If moles & voles are an issue, put down a granular repellent to sit under any upcoming snow. Yes snow is coming
- If keeping weeds down is a priority, mulch your garden beds & cover your veggie garden with chopped straw or winter rye.
- If you have fruit trees, put them to bed with a horticultural oil spray all over the branches & trunk.
- Buy your Wilt-Pruf, so you will be ready to spray evergreens, roses & hydrangeas before winter sets in.
- Give big hugs & kisses to your kids (if the teens let you) for all their help. Pig out on pizza and enjoy a cool drink.
Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!
*Greenview Fall Lawn Food or Espoma’s Organic Fall Winterizer
*Soil Doctor’s Lawn Lime or Encap’s Fast Acting Lime
*Holly-Tone, Plant-Tone, or Tree-Tone
*Mulch or Mainely Mulch
*I Must Garden’s Mole & Vole Repellent
*Bonide’s All Season Horticultural Oil