Friday, December 15, 2006

A Thank-You & More Questions

We’ve posted several descriptions and accounts of the Trees for Troops program. Today, we thought we’d share some of the feedback we receive from the families who get those trees. It’s easy to stay motivated when you read stuff like this. This was posted on the comments board at the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation site. More -->

I went with my husband Charles to Ft. Gordon , Ga. to renew my I.D. card and found out they were giving away Christmas Trees to anyone with a retired military card after all the active troops had gotten theirs (what a nice thing for them to do). We have always had an artificial tree after Charles retired from the military after serving 23 years in the Navy that was one way we could save money after retirement . We brought it home with us thinking wow, we got a real one this year, but to our amazement we found a woman we knew with a 5 year old son that didn’t have the money for a tree for her son. You know something, that old artificial tree looks good this year in our home and the real one we got from Fed-Ex looks better thru the eyes of a 5 year old in his home , we put it up while he was asleep and I took over some ornaments and lights I had left over and with the ones he and his Mother made. That tree Fed-Ex made possible for him is the most beautiful tree in the world to us . Just letting you know how one 5 year old boy will enjoy his Christmas. We also want to let you guys know how much we appreciate , love and pray for your safety as you go about your duties in the service. HOW BRAVE We love you all!!!!!!! Ann

From: Sara Langan
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Subject: why won't branches of fraser fir fall?

I'm pretty positive the stem never dried out after it was cut just before we brought it home four days ago, why haven't the bottom branches lowered at all?

Answer: The Fraser has pretty sturdy branches, especially those on the lower whorls which are oldest. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "falling" but they shouldn't droop at all. Other species will have less stiff branches which will "droop", meaning they will bend downward.

From: Di Gregorio, Sylvia
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006
Subject: FAQ Addition

Is a tree excessively dry if the needles come off easily (running your hand on the branch) even thought it is green & the bark is smooth? Is it normal for trees to lose needles while they are getting acclimated to the indoor temperature? Will warm water make a tree lose needles?

Answer: No, it's not normal for a tree to lose the outer green needles easily unless it is very dried out or some species can become very brittle if exposed to very cold temperatures. Once in the home, if a fresh cut has been made off the stump and put in water within 4-6 hours, the tree will begin to come out of dormancy and take up water. Water temp in the stand will not impact the tree's ability to take up water.

From: Jill Hovey
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Subject: Christmas trees gone swimming

My friend was told to put his Christmas tree in the swimming pool. He was told that it would add life to the tree and that fewer needles would fall off in his house. I have never heard of this? Can you tell me if this is a good idea?

Answer: I don't think that's a good idea for either the tree or the pool. I assume you live in a southern area where they still have water in pools? The only effective way to help a tree maintain a high moisture content and hold needles longer is to make a fresh cut off the base and keep it in water. Putting a tree's branches in pool water, or any kind of water, does not help it hold needles longer.

From: Jamie
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Subject: Scent

Love live Christmas trees but one of those people overly sensitive to strong scents. I came across a beautiful Christmas tree displayed by a grower at a recent fair in Jacksonville, Fla. and at first thought it was artificial because it did not have a scent. I was told by the person attending the tree that the grower had sprayed his trees with something that neutralized the scent. She did not know what he used. Would you know what the grower may have done to neutralize the scent?

Answer: Sprayed something to neutralize the scent???? Never heard of such a thing. I think the person in the booth was misinformed. Most likely the tree was a Leyland Cypress, which like some other species produces very little aroma.

From: Harry
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006
Subject: Blog Talk Ideas

Concerning the comment of a smell coming from the Christmas tree other than the fresh smell of pine. I have had a similar problem with spruce trees that I have planted in my own Christmas tree lot. Once cut and set up inside, the room begins to seem like sulfur or rotten eggs. Upon investigation the smell appears to be coming from the tips of the branches. I think it is a result of our very hard water. I give trees away to family and friends and they don't seem to have the problem with their trees from the same lot.

Answer: If it is a white spruce, it can be the tree. When crushed, needles have a disagreeable odor, thus, the common name of "skunk spruce" or "cat spruce" is often used by those familiar with the species. Although, it's not a real common species. I don't think anything in the water absorbed by the tree can change it's chemical composition and affect the odor released by the tree's resin. In most cases where people have written in about something smelling bad, it's usually the foul water in the stand itself.

But, your point is well taken in that we never know for sure what's going on exactly when someone says their tree smells bad.

From: Lee Naue
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006
Subject: Blog Talk Ideas

The place where we bought our Douglas fir Christmas Tree said to put a can of 7 up in the water. Is this a good idea?

Answer: NO, that's not a good idea. I'm sorry you were told that. Plain tap water is best.

From: Julie McCay Turner
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006
Subject: Blog Talk Ideas

I'd like to find an old-fashioned Christmas tree, one that has air between the branches so the ornaments actually hang down. "Back in the day" these were inexpensive sale lot trees, and pretty unattractive. But I'm hopeful that someone's breeding something similar with a nicer shape and sturdier branches.

Any hope of finding a small (4 ft) example anywhere in the Boston area???

Answer: The sparse look is dependent somewhat upon the genetics of the tree, but mostly through the shearing practices of the grower more so than species. The more open, less dense look is starting to become more popular among consumers, so the Christmas Tree farmers will be working to meet that demand, however the average tree takes 7 to 10 years to get to 6 or 7 feet high and the majority of consumers still want a full, thick tree. Check with farms in your area and ask them if they have a "less sheared" tree or one that "would be graded a cull". The grower will understand the what you are looking for. To find someone near Boston, use the ZIP Code search tool from our front page.

From: Julie McCay Turner
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006
Subject: Re: Blog Talk Ideas

Thank you for your prompt response -- can you point me in the direction of the types of trees that are apt to be spindliest?

Answer: By "type" I assume you mean "species" mentioned earlier, it doesn't matter so much which species. In other words, there are many species that can be sheared open. Ask the farm or lot to show you the more open, less sheared trees.

From: Ginther, Jon
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006
Subject: Minnesota tree

We put a Cannan Fur in our home last Saturday (12/9). A fresh cut was made at the nursery and within 15-minutes, the tree was home and going into the stand. With a false ceiling downstairs, we had to cut another inch off the end of the tree. We got the tree in the stand and let the branches fall from the net wrap as put on the tree at the nursery.

Since Sunday, the tree is barely drinking in water and I'm concern of any dangers this might pose. I am able to 'wrap' the smaller branches around my finger without the branch snapping, in fact the branch still feels somewhat 'rubbery'. What actions, if any, should I take?

Answer: It's completely typical for the rate of water absorption to fluctuate. For example, I put my tree up this past Friday evening and it absorbed almost no water at all until Monday. When I got home Monday night it had soaked up almost a gallon that day, by Tuesday morning another half gallon, and hardly any since. This is normal.

Did you make a fresh cut before putting in the stand? Did it take up water initially? Has the water level never dropped below the cut surface? If so, don't fret.