By B.C. Manion
Choosing a Christmas tree is pretty simple, right?
Well, that depends.
Do you want a Frasier fir or a Douglas fir? A blue spruce or a Scotch pine. Maybe you’re in the market for a white pine.
So, what’s the difference?
Matt Marsh, who works at a tree lot on SR 54, just west of Collier Parkway in Land O’Lakes, said “the best-selling tree” on his lot is a Frasier fir. People tend to like the shape of the tree and they have nice branches upon which to hang ornaments, he said.
Douglas firs are bushier and have a nice fragrance, he said.
Blue spruces have a nice shape, but sharp needles.
And Scotch pines are quite durable, but have very little scent, Marsh said.
In the end, it’s generally boils down to customer preference and the space they need to fill, Marsh said.
“Some people want a real skinny tree,” Marsh said, while others prefer plump trees.
Super large trees typically find a home at a church or hotel or other place that needs to fill a big space, he said.
Prices can vary, too.
At his lot, the Scotch pines sell in the $30 range, while the other trees generally go for about $10 a foot. However, Marsh noted, prices are negotiable.
Christmas tree lots were just beginning to pop up around northern Hillsborough and Central Pasco last week. No lots were easily visible from the main roads in Zephyrhills, and just one stand was going up on SR 54 near Interstate 75 in Wesley Chapel.
A lot had been set up at Gaither High and also at the Seal Swim School on North Dale Mabry Highway in Lutz. Another lot was operating on North Florida Avenue, just north of Bearss Avenue.
Sales for fresh trees usually peak around Thanksgiving and continue at a good clip for the next couple of weeks, Marsh said.
The trees are trucked in from Michigan and new shipments will come throughout the season to replenish the supply.
When the trees arrive, they often still have snow on their branches, Marsh said.
“Some have birds’ nests in them.”
For the glance box, perhaps we could imbed it into the tree lot photo? Just a thought…
A look at a tree lot before the rush begins to find that perfect tree.
Tips for choosing a fresh Christmas tree
The rush is on to find that perfect Christmas tree – a time-old tradition for many families, churches and businesses. If you’re in the market for a fresh tree, these tips from the National Christmas Tree Association may come in handy:
– Be sure you know what size (height and width) you need before heading to the retail lot.
– If you want to learn about the species of trees that are popular in your area, browse the National Christmas Tree Association’s website, www.realchristmastrees.org before heading to the retail lot.
– Go to a retail lot that is well-lit and stores trees in a shaded area.
– Ask the retailer when he or she gets his or her trees. Are they delivered at the beginning of the season, or do they come in several shipments throughout the season?
– Look for indicators of dryness or deterioration such as excessive needle loss, musty odor, discolored foliage or wrinkled bark. A good rule of thumb: If you’re not sure a tree is fresh, choose another one. If none of the trees on the lot look fresh, go shopping elsewhere.
Maintenance and safety tips
– Get a fresh cut on the trunk of the tree before leaving the tree lot. A fresh cut will help the tree absorb water
– Put your tree in a sturdy stand to keep it from toppling over. Fill the base with water and replenish it frequently.
– Use a tree skirt to help make it easier to clean up the needles that drop from the tree.
– Use only indoor lights on the tree. To prevent potential fires, check for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. If a light string is damaged, don’t use it. Avoid overloading extension cords.
– Turn off tree lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.
Sources: The National Christmas Tree Association, the University of Florida/Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences and the National Safety Council