Real or fake? This year, we’ll put up a small artificial tree for Christmas. Part of me cringes internally, remembering Mom’s scathing comments about fake trees and the kind of people who had them when we were growing up. Nice people didn’t use those tawdry things; they put up real trees that the family went out and chose; a nice big ceiling-height fresh one. We got our tree as late in the month as possible and it never went up beforeDecember 20th. We even had a few live ones with root balls way before tree hugging was fashionable, and those pretty pines now grace the front yards of two of the houses we lived in when I was a child.
As a young adult living on my own, I continued to use real trees, often ones I cut from an abundance of scrub pines and cedars from the farm where I lived. December trail riding was often a scoping trip to find the perfect tree for me and several friends. No Christmas tree story of mine would be complete without confessing the story of trying to drag one home on horseback. We chopped it down with an ax carried in my saddle bag, and I tied a drag rope to the trunk and attached it to the saddle D-rings for the short jog home. Conditions were perfect: there was snow on the ground and the tree slid along, perhaps too quietly at first. The horse, a young half broke 3 year old colt, barely noticed it, and I mounted him and set off. But it slid into his hocks down a slight incline and he panicked, exploding into a rodeo-worthy bucking frenzy, convinced a lion had him by the back legs. I was unceremoniously dumped as he bolted at a dead run, as if the flames from hell were burning his tail. End result, the tree was broken up, it was a long walk back home where I found the horse, still snorting, trailing a broken bridle and wearing his saddle under his belly. More recently, we repurposed a Norfolk pine that we decorated for Christmas. Originally a 10-inch sapling choked with glitter flakes purchased after Christmas for fifty cents almost a decade ago, it grew larger every year, eventually getting too big to move easily this summer, so in lieu of repotting it and trying to find room to bring it back inside this fall, I rehomed it. It never made a good Christmas tree anyway so it became our Charlie Brown special. This year, we’re going artificial. In defense of my recent attitude change about that, artificial trees have come a long way since the tawdry horrors I remember from childhood. They look realistic, don’t shed needles, don’t need to be watered nor do you need to worry about digging a hole in the dead of winter to plant them outside. But should you wish for that wonderfully fragrant live tree, the area has plenty of Christmas tree farms open after Thanksgiving til just before Christmas. Many have good selections of pre-cut trees and even live trees with root balls you can plant after the holidays, as well as fields of chop your own beauties of all varieties. If the farm doesn’t have a website it’s best to call first to check prices and availability. LOWELANDS FARM Near Middleburg. Open weekends 9 to 5 through Dec. 16. (Last weekend subject to availability; call ahead.) Norway and Colorado blue spruce; Douglas, Canaan and Concolor fir; pre-cut Fraser fir. From Interstate 66, U.S. 50 west 16 miles to Route 734 (Snickersville Turnpike), right five miles to Route 733 (Lime Kiln Road), right one mile to Route 763 (Steptoe Hill Road), left 1/2 mile to sign on right. 540-687-6923.http://www.lowelandsfarm.com. MIDDLEBURG CHRISTMAS TREE FARM Near Middleburg. Open weekends 9 to 5 through Dec. 16. Norway and Colorado blue spruce, Douglas fir. U.S. 50 west to Middleburg, right at Route 626 (Foxcroft Road), 6.2 miles to Route 630 (Unison Road), right 0.1 miles to Christmas Tree Lane and farm on left. 540-554-8625. http://www.middleburgxmastrees.com GLENGARY TREE FARM Near Amissville. Open weekdays 8 to 4, weekends 9 to 4 through Dec. 24. Scotch and white pine, white and Colorado blue spruce, Douglas and Fraser fir. From Warrenton, Route 211 west 10 miles to Amissville and Route 642 (Viewtown Road), left one mile to Route 611 (Waterford Road), left two miles to Route 626 (Korea Road), right one mile to farm on left. 540-937-4751 or 540-937-2335. HINTER BENEDICTEN CONIFERS Near Amissville. Open weekends 10 to 5 throughDec. 16. White and Scotch pine, Canaan and Korean fir, blue and Norway spruce, Leyland cypress. From Warrenton, U.S. 211 west to Amissville, left on Route 642 (Viewtown Road), left on Route 611 (Waterford Road), right on Route 626 (Korea Road), bear right at bend, then right to 5040 Point of View Dr. in Viewtown. 540-937-6168.
OAK SHADE FARM Near Warrenton. Open Tuesday-Sunday 9 to 5 through Dec. 24. White pine, Norway spruce. From Warrenton, U.S. 211 west across Rappahannock River to Route 229, left six miles to Route 611 (Waterford Road), right one mile to farm on right.540-937-5062.
‘PEPER’MINT FARM Culpeper. Open 9 to 4:30 first two weekends of December, then by appointment. Scotch and white pine; Norway, blue and white spruce; Canaan fir. From Culpeper, Route 229 (Main Street extended) north to Route 729 (Eggbornsville Road), left 4.5 miles to farm on right. 540-825-4693.
K&K TREES Near Marshall. Open weekends 8 to 4:30 through Dec. 24. Norway spruce and white pine. Interstate 66 west to Exit 27, south on Route 721 (Free State Road) about six miles to farm on left. 540-364-1130.
Written by: Julie Reardon