We know we’re touching on a controversial topic. Is a tree you put up in December a “Holiday” tree or a “Christmas” tree or a “Neither” tree? Political and religious views aside, we’re going to be decidedly neutral on the subject (after all, last night our Jewish friend who is staying at our Muslim friend’s house invited us to a tree-trimming party and the tree was full of Hanukkah ornaments, stars, angels, and footballs).
Everyone can have a tree in the home around the holidays. It can be a holiday tree, a Christmas tree, or a beautiful fig tree. Regardless of your religious beliefs or what holidays you celebrate and don’t, we believe there’s a way to introduce “The Tree” into your December décor.
Not because of any biases, but because 78% of the American population call themselves Christians, we’ll start with the traditional “Christmas” tree.
In the traditional Christmas tree department, the top choices for “non-artificial” are the Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir, Balsam Fir, Colorado Blue Spruce, and the Scotch Pine.
A Fraser fir is a native southern fir and very similar to Balsam fir. Some say it is a southern extension of the Balsam fir species. This fir has dark green needles, 1/2 to 1 inch long and ships well. The tree has excellent needle retention along with a nice scent.
Douglas fir is not a true fir but actually has its own unique classification. Unlike true firs, the cones on Douglas fir hang downward. Douglas fir grows cone-shaped naturally, has 1 to 1-1/2 inch needles and a sweet scent. The Doug fir trees are found in nearly every tree lot in the Unites States.
Balsam fir is a pyramidal tree with short, flat, long-lasting, aromatic needles. Balsam fir and Fraser fir have many similar characteristics and some botanists consider them extensions of the same species. Their geographic ranges do not overlap and the Balsam fir has to have cold winters and cool summers. Balsam fir is very fragrant. The tree was named for the balsam or resin found in blisters on bark and which was used to treat wounds in Civil War.
The Colorado Blue Spruce is most familiar to people as an ornamental landscape tree. The tree has dark green to powdery blue needles, 1 to 3 inches long and a pyramidal form. Colorado Blue Spruce is very often sold "living" and with an entire root ball - to be planted after the holidays. As such, it would be considered more "eco-friendly."
Scotch or "Scots" pine is the most planted commercial Christmas tree in North America. Scots pine was imported from Europe and is not native to America. Scotch pine trees have stiff branches and two bundled dark green needles 1 to 3 inches long that are retained for four weeks. The aroma is long-lasting and lingers through the entire season. Scotch pine does not drop needles when dry.
Once you choose your tree – let’s be honest, most of the time our tree chooses us, not the other way around … think about Charlie Brown – you’ll have to consider care. Trees drink a lot, particularly in the first few days after you bring them home. So plentifully hydrate your tree with distilled water. As for the needle mess? Our solution is two-fold: First, put your tree in your stand BEFORE you bring it to your living room. And, secondly, place a tree bag underneath your tree as soon as you get it home. When it’s time to take your tree down, simply bag the tree indoors and, voila, no needles on that Rose Tarlow rug of yours.
For those of you who are not interested in having a “Christmas Tree,” we’ve showcased quite a few extraordinary examples of “non-traditional” trees in our image gallery. We love Martha Stewart’s little bonsai tree, and the much bigger version in Claridge's in London is extraordinary. Both are perfect examples of how you can decorate with trees without feeling Christmas-y. Take a look at the outside evergreen as well. With its snow-laden branches and simple white lights, this tree is, simply, stunning.
On a personal note, last year we decorated palm trees with tons of glittery stars and put spotlights on them in our “city” house. For the beach, we hung starfish, shells, and sea urchins from ficus trees. Of course, white lights are a great addition to every tree – indoor and out – and don’t feel Christmas-y at all. In fact, they can stay up all year round.
Finally, since we’re Bungalux, we would be remiss in assuming all of you have the time and inclination to DIY. The latest trend in high society New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco has been to hire your florist or interior designer to decorate your tree (and holiday rooms). So, for those of you in Hillsborough who are too busy taking your daughter to genius school and launching your new hush-hush mobile company; or for the select few who can’t pop over to the chalet in Gstaad to decorate pre-December 24th, you may want to shell over $5,000-$50,000 to, well, just show up.
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