Finding the tallest, greenest, most lively and lush family Christmas tree can be an odyssey for many.
Some purchase the plant far too early, only to have it die weeks before the big day.
Others traverse lots – and even the dense backwoods – for a mighty Douglas Fir, only to come up short when nothing can be found.
Richard Davies, owner of Oh Christmas Tree farm in Milner, has fielded just about every question one could think when it comes to picking and caring for people’s festive focal point.
He has been growing several varieties of fir trees on his 17 acre lot for 15 years, and said he’ll sell more than 500 by mid December.
“People come out who are looking for something to do together and have a nice walk in the fields,” Davis explained – noting that the biggest surprise people learn when coming out to the farm is how long it takes to grow a tree.
“A lot of people think it only takes a year to grow their Christmas tree, but it takes about seven or eight years to reach the proper height; so about a foot a year,” Davies explained.
Starting from eight inch seedlings, Davies plants a new crop every spring in moist compacted soil.
As they grow over the years, he cuts the top of the tree – a branch called the leader – and trims the sides to keep it growing in a more desirable cone shape.
Of course, trees to all size preferences are available, meaning folks can get smaller, more “Charlie Brown” type ones, or taller trees that tower past 12 feet.
Oh Christmas Tree farm is a U-Cut business, meaning guests in search of their holiday centerpiece are handed a bow saw and wagon, and encouraged to chop one down themselves.
“It’s funny… people aren’t prepared. I tell them to come with boots and gloves, and people will show up in their white shoes and Starbucks,” Davies laughed.
But he figures getting a little messy and out in the open is all part of the holiday fun; it’s all part of an experience many farms in Langley offer to ensure people are getting the freshest tree possible.
“The main thing is people don’t often know where their tree is coming from when they purchase them from lots,” Davies pointed out. “It could be a month since it was cut and shipped from Quebec – it just won’t last.”
Davies grows a variety of different fir trees – Noordman, Douglas, Noble, Grand, and Fraser. He said know what to look for in each type makes a different.
“Frasers are popular because the branches are fuller and stick out so people can hang ornaments, ” he said. “Frasers and Nobles have needles that seem to last longer.”
Scent is another unmistakable factor to consider, an attribute that lead many to purchasing a real tree. Though some might not be able to tell the different, Davies said Noble’s are sweeter while Frasers have more of a citrus odor.
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Once it’s home, Davis said the biggest challenge is looking after the tree and making sure it always has plenty of water around the bark; no other substance should be added.
“A fresh tree can last a month with the right care,” Davies assured.
When it comes to fire hazards, Davies felt the dangers aren’t what they used to be.
“New lights like LED’s are cool and they’ve taken the place of candles or incandescent lights,” he said. “So hazards are not quite the same as what they were in the past. Too many plugged in cords into the same outlet are more of a hazard to watch out for.”
In an age of conservation, plastic trees, and even holograms of holiday decor, Davies said trends and changes have never been an issue – the number of customers have always been abundant
“It’s a family tradition. Some people are fake tree people and some say ‘no way’,” Davis stated. “They will always buy real.”
Oh Christmas Tree Farm is open now, Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
They are located at 21858 Maxwell Cres. and offer help tying and securing purchased trees to people’s vehicles.
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