The holiday season is steeped in traditions, and perhaps the most symbolic is the Christmas tree. Whether it’s an artificial tree stored in the basement and carried up each year to decorate, or an outdoor adventure with a hunting and gathering ritual to find the perfect specimen, every celebrating household has its own idea of what makes for the ideal Christmas tree.
There is often a heated debate on the merits of bringing in a fresh tree versus using a fake. Both seem to carry environmental benefits, as fake trees are reusable and real trees contribute to the cycle of life. Regardless of whether you side with the fresh-or-fake crowd, a trip to Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park & Tree Farm, just west of Ottawa in Beckwith, is an educational and a fun holiday tradition. Tour the trails with your saw to cut down your own tree and then be sure to stop in and meet the reindeer on site.
To gain some insights from the tree expert on what makes the best Christmas tree, Ian Andrews explained that there are three popular types: fir, pine and spruce – with the Balsam Fir being the most popular. Ian, of course, believes firmly in the natural beauty of a real tree for the holidays. He takes pride in the care his trees are given to ensure that each cut tree will last through the season.
“Always be sure to give your tree a fresh cut once you get it home,” advises Ian, who also notes that the tree can go straight from the farm into your home.
The Balsam Fir lasts a long time, grows straight, drops the least number of needles and has strong branches to support ornaments. This tree can be put up as much as five weeks in advance.
The Fraser Fir is the longest lasting, but is the most expensive. An intriguing feature of this type of tree is that it has no scent.
Spruce trees drop their needles quickly, but have merit as the most traditional of the three varieties. The White Spruce is popular with Europeans who like to put candles on the tight, full branches. This type of tree is ideal for placing decorations onto the branches rather than dangling ornaments from them. Look for spruce trees with colour variations from shades of blue to lighter green.
Pine trees are ideally suited to a country Christmas with the long needles begging for bulky homespun crafts hanging through their branches. Scotch pine needles are sharp and can make placing ornaments a challenge. White Pine trees have much softer needles, but this means that the branches cannot withstand a lot of weight, so think home-made, paper-link chains and strings of popcorn on these trees.