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Gardening For Wildlife #45, Your fresh cut Christmas trees
December 03, 2007

A Blessed week to you.

As is the case this time of year, there is a lack of time to get most things accomplished in a timely fashion.

I'm sure you know how it is.

People to see, places to go, things to do.

Michigan's weather like always is unpredictable.

Sunny, windy, rainy, and snowy.

Sometimes all in the same day.

This past week was no exception.

There is little bird activity to report.

Sure, a few more Mourning doves are visiting now days.

The Cardinals come and go.

A few Goldfinches and of course the Nuthatches.

However, things have been relatively boring.

Rarely a Junco to be seen and if you can believe this....................

Even the House sparrows are no where to be found.

That is until Saturday night's Snow storm that turned to Sundays sleet and rain, then back to snow.

All day Saturday, like clock work, feathered creatures descended on the feeders.

Those that had to wait for their turn hung out in the trees and foraged on the ground.

It's a good thing the feeders were full.

The second week end after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest time of the season for buying fresh cut Christmas trees.

This year was no different.

Working at a nursery has its ups and downs and working outside all day this time of year is no fun.

The back and muscles don't like it much either.

Though difficult to imagine, Christmas trees are indeed grown in all 50 states as well as Canada.

The top Christmas Tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington.

The top selling Christmas Trees are: Balsam fir, Douglas-fir, Fraser fir, Noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and White pine.

Scotch pine, one of the more affordable trees is a native of Europe Scotch pines are a quick growing tree with stiff branches. Relatively easy to farm.

The others are native to North America.

Certain trees grow best in certain climates.

No matter where you live, you may buy Fraser firs from the mountains of North Carolina or a Noble fir or Douglas fir from its native land of the Pacific northwest.

Often trees are cut weeks in advance, a buyer needs to be educated.

Now what does this have to do with wildlife gardens?

Read on and you will find some nice tips and a few facts.

To enjoy your tree even more, the following tips are some suggestions to help you keep your tree fresh longer and enjoy it more.

1. Select a fresh, green tree. Usually a fresh tree has flexible needles which bend. If the weather is very cold, moisture inside each needle may freeze, making the needles brittle. Spruce needles also tend to be more brittle naturally than those of pine or fir.

2. Shake the tree to see if green needles drop out. If many do, the tree may not be fresh. Pine trees shed their inside needles needles every fall, and sometimes lodge among the branches. This is a normal process and not a sign of an old tree.

3. Care for your tree as you would for cut flowers.

4. Let your tree remain outdoors or on a cool porch or patio until you are ready to decorate. An area that provides protection from the wind will help the tree retain moisture.

5. If possible, bring the tree to a partially-heated area the night before decorating.

6. Make a fresh cut in the trunk about an inch up from the original cut and plunge the trunk end immediately into fresh room temperature water. This opens the tree stem so it can take up water. If you allow the water level to drop below the trunk, a seal will form and a new cut will be necessary. As long as the tree keeps drawing water, it will be fire resistant.

A tree you just cut needs a drink too.

7. Trees are thirsty, even the tree you cut yourself. They may drink between two pints and a gallon of water per day, so make sure to check it daily and supply fresh water as needed.

8. Be sure the tree is well supported in a water-holding stand and is away from fireplaces, registers/radiators, TV sets and other sources of heat.

9. Avoid use of cumbustable decorations. Check all electric lights and connections. Do not use lights with worn or frayed cords. NEVER use lighted candles.

After the holidays, the tree has many uses.

It can be placed in the backyard or near your bird feeders to offer protection from predators or a cold winter night.

You can hang treats from it as well.

Your tree is bio-degradable, its branches may be removed and used as mulch in the garden.

The trunk can be used in a brush pile to help attract and provide a home for wildlife.

Some people that live near a lake will toss the old tree in the water to help create an under water habitat for fish and turtles.

If none of these are an option, click onto to locate a local recycle program.

You may also click onto to read on environmental issues.

Here are a few example you may not know or think about.

Your tree is a renewable resource.

Each spring, two or three seedlings will replace the tree you enjoyed during Christmas season.

While the tree was growing, it provided shelter for the birds and wildlife. Often you will find an old nest in your Christmas tree.

An acre of Christmas trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people.

There are mixed reviews on making a Christmas tree for your birds.

So much depends on where you live and the birds you have.

Stringing cranberries may work if you have fruit eating birds like Bluebirds and Mockingbirds.

Other fruit eating birds like Northern cardinals change their diet here in the North country to mainly seeds.

Popcorn is a bird's delight, but rain will take care of that in no time at all.

String small chucks of suet works for many birds.

Bunches of raisins hung from a branch can attract robins, bluebirds, mockingbirds and waxwings.

Like many things, so much depends on where you live and the time you have.

Are you making out your Christmas list or does a loved one have a feeder in mind?

Be sure to read up on bird feeders.

I talk on birds needs and the quality of feeders.

Remember, you do get what you pay for when it comes to feeders.

Look at what benefits you and the birds.

Does it fill easy?

How about cleaning?

Will it last for years and years?

Will the birds use it?

Is it to cute to really work?

Be sure to go through and read up on all the different feeders

I recommend products I know and trust period.

It may cost a few dollars more, but you wont have to buy a new feeder every year or every other year unless you are adding on.

Say, it's the first of the month.

Did you clean your feeders?

Maybe you're to busy.

Spray them down with rubbing alcohol.

Alcohol sanitizes and dries fast with no harmful residue.


It's time to fly for now.

Tis the season for giving.

Unfortunantly, we seem to forget about the needy the rest of the year.

Please remenber to give to your favorite charity or drop off a gift or two.

You may not see the joy or smile, but you will know you made someone's day.

We have been blessed and must remember that.

The Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver.

My dear departed mom always taught us kids that we need to give back some of the blessings we have recieved.

A smile wont put food on a table or a coat on someone's back, but it can warm a heart and it makes you feel good as well.

Share your smiles with strangers, you may confuse them.

Until next time.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS: Feel free to forward this to friends and family or send them to so they can register to recieve their free copies.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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