Evergreen trees are used around the world to celebrate the winter holiday season. Whatever the language, people around the world decorate trees to celebrate their religions, the New Year, and their love of family and friends.
WNC home to Christmas tree farms
Do you have an evergreen tree displayed in your home this holiday season? Western North Carolina grows 20% of the Christmas trees in the United States! And this year a 19½-foot Fraser Fir grown by Larry Smith of Avery County is standing tall in the Blue Room of the White House.
Most holiday trees and other decorations are from trees that stay green year-round.
- Conifers—including the fir, spruce, and pine we most often use for our holiday trees—have needle-like foliage.
- Broadleaf evergreens—such as holly, magnolia, and boxwood—are often used in holiday decorations.
What should we do with our live-cut tree after the holidays?
- Make a wildlife habitat: Take off all the lights and decorations and set the tree outside to provide shelter for rabbits, birds, squirrels, and other wildlife.
- Mulch: Wood chips from holiday trees make useful mulch for garden paths or around shrubs and trees.
- Recycle: If you don’t want to chip the tree yourself, recycle it! Many recycled trees are used for mulch in community gardens. Asheville residents can place trees at the curb for regular brush collection—but first remove lights, ornaments, and stands. Or drop off trees for recycling at the Buncombe County Landfill.
– Don’t burn your holiday tree—indoors or out! Dry evergreens burn extremely hot and may cause house fires or wildfires. I remember one outdoor campfire as a child when the adults threw an old Christmas tree onto the fire and sparks flew everywhere!
– Artificial trees may seem a good alternative to a cut tree, because they will last six years in your home, but they will last for centuries in a landfill.
Homemade bird feeders to decorate holiday trees
If you put your tree out in your yard, it is fun to decorate with homemade bird feeders to keep the spirit of giving throughout the winter. Hanging fruit slices, seed cakes, suet bags, or strings of cranberries, raisins, and/or popcorn on your holiday tree’s branches helps feed the birds. You also can smear peanut butter and seeds on pine cones or toilet paper tubes and hang them in the tree.
If you have bears or other potentially nuisance wildlife in your area, skip these feeders in favor of planting bird-friendly flowers and shrubs in your landscape.
Adult supervision is needed with the following feeders
When my children were younger, we made birdseed ornaments using unflavored gelatin. Here is a link to step-by-step instructions, with photos: http://jmgkids.us/bird-seed-christmas-ornaments/
This link provides instructions to make a birdseed suet cake: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/design/gardening-with-wildlife/suet-diy.html
More fun holiday activities
Instructions for holiday crafts and coloring sheets and worksheets to download.
Just for Kids by the NC Christmas Tree Association
Word scrambles, crosswords, mazes, and connect the dots activities.
Games & Puzzles by the National Christmas Tree Association
Download this illustrated ABC book. Woodsy Owl guides children through the world of nature and wildlife.
Woodsy’s ABCs by the USDA Forest Service
Article written by Carol Brown, Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer.