Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

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Gary Palmer, owner of Holiday Memories Farm (4848 Muddy Creek Road, West River, MD), proudly shows one of the trees available to choose and cut at his Christmas tree farm. Trees take about seven years to grow.

Tis the season to celebrate. Front and center of all the holiday traditions is the Christmas Tree. What kind of tree to select is often an annual debate in families. What is the best eco-friendly choice to make this season? Is it buying a green tree –or investing in an artificial tree that will last for years. 

Are real trees better than artificial ones?

Getting an expert’s opinion on this question involved a trip to Anne Arundel County Maryland, approximately 45 minutes from Capitol Hill to visit with a Christmas tree farm.  Gary Palmer, owner of Holiday Memories Farm, has given this question a lot of thought. Surprisingly, he says “it is what is right for you and your family. There are a lot of considerations to be made and circumstances and for some to buy an artificial tree is perfectly fine.”

The fact that artificial trees end up in the landfill and are not biodegradable is a leading argument against the “fake” trees.  Many are also produced in China increasing the carbon emissions and resources.  However, financially it makes a lot of sense to invest in one, saving you having to spend $30 to $150 a year for a tree that lasts a few weeks.  Maintenance wise you don’t have to worry about watering the tree in the middle of the very rushed holiday season. USA Today reports Americans purchase approximately 10 million artificial trees a season. 

Christmas Tree Farms

Of course, the ultimate environmentally friendly option is to buy or rent a live tree that can be repotted and continues to grow year after year. This option is gaining in popularity, but it was difficult to actually find a rent-a-tree company in the DMV area.  Advocates suggest contacting local tree farmers to see if they are able to provide this option.

Christmas tree farms are plentiful in the DC area and the best of the best have been detailed by trees.com. https://www.trees.com/christmas-trees/farms-in-washington-dc

Holiday Memories Farm is in its second season this year.  Gary Palmer, a retired DC firefighter, says it has been his lifelong dream to be a Christmas tree farmer, ever since he spent time on his grandparent’s farm growing up.  “Unlike most kids, I really loved being on the farm,” says Gary.  It took him several years to find and negotiate to buy the farm, but his patience paid off.    

It takes seven years for a tree to grow big enough to cut, and he has several different plots of trees all in different stages. The inventory for 2022 is good, and he offers several types of evergreen trees, including Douglas Fir and Blue Spruces. You get to pick and cut your favorite. Gary also brings in trees from other suppliers if you want to just choose one ready to go. 

Holiday Memories farm is a complete Christmas experience with a Gingerbread House recently built for Santa, and a barn full of holiday trees, wreathes, and holiday goodies. They even have a 100-year-old sleigh you can pose on with family members for the perfect holiday photograph. Gary wants folks to make Christmas memories at his farm, making his lifelong dream come true.

The farm is only open two weekends including one on December 3rd weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Other times of the year the farm sells pick your own blueberries, fresh eggs, and herbs in season.  Check the website for details. https://kelciepalmer.wixsite.com/holidaymemoriesfarm

Trees on the Hill, Still

In addition to trees being available at Eastern Market, Gingko Gardens, and Fragers, local schools, scout troops, and the Friends of the National Arboretum also sell Christmas trees and wreaths. Despite a national shortage of trees, Capitol Hill will be well stocked with trees to choose from. 

Artificial trees can be found at many retailers including a wide variety at Costco and Lowes at 2438 Market Street, N.E. Most trees are pre-lit.

Friends of the National Arboretum will be selling trees on December 3rd and December 10th.  Check their website for more details – https://www.fona.org/

There is nothing like creating new traditions with family and friends during the holiday season.  Holidays give us all a chance to share special moments together.  Whether you are cutting your own tree; picking a tree from one of the local schools and nonprofits, or putting up the artificial tree with lights aglow, memories will be made and last a lifetime of Christmases.

The Salt Line Tree Lot (79 Potomac Ave. SE) | Friday, Nov. 26 until trees are gone 

The Salt Line kicks off their 11th Annual Christmas tree lot at Noon on Friday, Nov. 25th –the day after Thanksgiving! Be sure to stop by to pick out your perfect Christmas tree. All proceeds from the Tree Lot sale will go directly to the DC Firefighters Burn Foundation.

While you’re there, take advantage of Happy Afternoon specials from 12 to 4 p.m., before or after you shop. They’ll start your holiday celebration for you. With every tree purchase they’re giving one free cocktail, so eat, drink, and be merry!

The Salt Line is offering their 10th Annual Christmas Tree Lot just in time for the holidays, which means you can get your Christmas tree and other decor items early, with an added treat. Stands, wreaths, garlands and collectible items will all be on sale.

Get your tree and your holiday spirits at Wunder Garten’s Winterfest and Giving Tree Lot. Click for info.
Courtesy: Wunder Garten

Wundergarten Giving Tree Lot (100-198 L St. NE) | Sunday, Nov. 27 to Jan. 1

The Giving Tree Lot is back at Wunder Garten this year. You can choose from Frasier Firs, Balsam Firs, Douglas Firs, White Pine, Scotch Pine and Blue Spruce. Tree sizes are all the way from table toppers to more than ten feet.

While you’re there, pop into Wundergarten’s annual WINTERFEST holiday festival from Friday, Dec 2 through Friday, Dec 23. Find your tree but also a cozy fire pit and a hot chocolate bar, or holiday craft activities surrounded in a festively decorated Winter Wunderland for that perfect Instagram selfie or holiday card.

2021 was The Giving Tree Project’s most successful year yet, raising more than $46,000 for the h3 Project, a DC-based non-profit which provides support and connects people experiencing homelessness to services. Your donations will enable the h3 Project to purchase and provide household essentials for its clients, including kitchen utensils, small appliances, bedding and more!

Starting 4 p.m. Nov. 27: Monday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. | Friday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sat & Sun Noon to 9 p.m. Learn more at givingtree.business.site

A correction from last month’s article on native plants. To contact the DC native plant folks go to https://dcnatives.org/pollinator-garden-planner/

Rindy O’Brien is a local gardener and can be contacted at rindyobrien@gmail.com

This story differs slightly from print; it has been updated to include tree sales open at time of digital publication.