Tree farms: More people are living in forests, and finding Christmas trees there

Written by Maureen O’Donnell, CNN

It may seem that everything about the holiday season is the hard way out — thank you, dog biscuits — but tree sales are on the rise.

The trees themselves are a natural part of the season’s revelry, and tangerines, oranges and pomegranates often get top billing. But tree enthusiasts have recently started looking for unusual ways to deck their halls, turning to trees they can see.

This year saw a 13% increase in online orders, according to a November study from TD Ameritrade, which also noted a 27% increase in branch requests. The trend is continuing this year, with retail sales of outdoor plants — mason jars, hellebores, wisteria and conifers — up 14% over last year.

These say it all. Mementos are all, with tree farmers happy to accommodate. Credit: Dayna Evans

“More people want to engage with their wooded neighbors,” said Diana Tynes, director of arboretum and garden services at the Cornell Botanic Garden in Ithaca, New York. “A lot of people still talk about Christmas trees from the past — this is nostalgic for them.”

The vast majority of trees go to the American South — 75% in the Deep South and Midwest and 52% in the Northeast, according to research published in 2014 in the journal Ecological Economics.

Michigan is the state with the most tree sales by volume, according to Yik , which serves the petal-obsessed.

The appeal of the holiday trees stems from its evergreen look, sustainable supply and competition with outdoor plants to be delivered before the other decorating options, Tynes said.

All the traditional favorites are here, including balsam fir, white pine, Christmas cedar and spruce — most recognizable from their thin, branch-like radiuses.

Courtesy of Yik

These are also the most popular Christmas trees to order on online retailers Amazon and Whole Foods .

And in years when the weather turns nasty, there’s even a Norwegian Fjord fir and Banister Fir, which have none of the showy branches and fancy leaves of Christmas cedars. These are delicately shaped trees only marginally larger than a queen-sized bed comforter.

A traditional Christmas tree begins “in the forests” and, like any natural product, it’s “inconceivable that it will be killed,” according to The Christmas Tree Association , an industry association in Portland, Oregon.

“Sure, our forests have seen intense commercial production,” said Colleen Galvin, the association’s vice president of communications, “but they’re managed to return to the forest system. If trees were to be cut and burned, it would just accelerate that. The tradition of buying a Christmas tree also allows us to take care of our trees. We’re going to sell them or not sell them. They’re not going to go to waste.”

A safer, more sustainable alternative to a real tree may be tapping into other lifestyle trends this holiday season.

Highlights from “Canada’s wild heartland” at the Yellowstone Fall Festival are showing at the American Impressionist and Modern Art Museum in Chicago. Photographer Stéphane Hynes used more than a year-and-a-half of solitude and anticipation to create these lush photographs.

Fireworks (some actually built by hand) will light up the city of South Buffalo in New York on Monday and Tuesday night.

And in Tokyo, new Instagram account has come up with a unique way to add color to a drab day: photoshopping the people and places of Japanese cities into “holiday pictures.”

There’s only one problem: no rules of Photoshop, and Pisifuken is taking no responsibility. The creators of the account have admitted in a post to being “a little irresponsible” and posted no citations for any of the pictures, but nevertheless thousands of users have taken to the page to add all sorts of seasonal elements into Japanese landscapes.

We’ve got your tree tricked.

Leave a Comment