When it’s time to decorate for the holidays, many families choose to use a real tree instead of an artificial arbor. Whether your imagination conjures up a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting or a scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, you’ll understand that the act of going out with the family to select – and even cut down – your own tree can be a memorable way to jumpstart your holiday celebration.
Oh Christmas Tree
The most commonly grown trees in Ontario are pine, fir and spruce, with several varieties of each in between. You can choose to buy a pre-cut tree from local farms and markets such as Wildhagen Greenhouses in Milton, or harvest your own from places like Clembrook Christmas Farm in Milton or Wills Christmas Store & Tree Farm in Hamilton. At most locations you’ll find varieties that include Fraser, Balsam, or Canaan Fir; Scotch, White or Austrian Pine; and green, blue, white Norway or Colorado Spruce.
Make a Day of It
What makes going out to get a natural tree fun is the experiences and activities that can surround it. Hopping in the car with friends and family turns going out merely just to buy a tree into a half or all-day excursion. Clembrook opens for holiday business in mid-November with activities that go beyond finding that perfect pine. Hop on a wagon ride or sit around the bonfire, visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, shop in the heated Christmas barn and reminisce with their display of antique Christmas decorations while holiday tunes fill the air. When there’s snow on the ground, bring toboggans for a few rides down the hill.
Over in Hamilton, the Wills Christmas Store & Tree Farm is a 176-acre farm with a unique picture-perfect Christmas store stocked with gifts and décor. The tree farm also offers bonfires on weekends, baked goods and gingerbread cookie decorating for the kids.
If you plan to harvest your own tree, it must be done during daylight hours. If you want to buy a pre-cut tree, shopping for one later in the day can be even more magical with the lights and displays lighting up the evening.
Did you know that Christmas trees have their own government bill? Bill 185 states that the first Sunday of December has been declared National Christmas Tree Day. Of course, you can go select your tree whenever you choose and when you do, spending the day outdoors finding the perfect tree will make lasting memories for everyone.
Tips for Tree Trekking
TOOLS & EQUIPMENT: Saws are usually provided. Some places wrap (or bale) and tie the tree on your car. Bring your own bungee cords and rope just in case. Call ahead to find out.
SHAKING: Trees should receive a good shake before bringing them indoors; although the tree was probably home to a few creatures outside, you don’t want to bring them home for the holidays.
FARM FUN: Both Clembrook and Wills have wagon rides, refreshments, a gift shop, greenery and even visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
WHAT TO WEAR: Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty; boots, and heavy gloves for handling the tree; dress in layers and prepare for chilly weather with hats and mittens.
WHAT TO PACK: Bring snacks and water if you choose, or enjoy the farm’s café.
PHOTO OPPS: Bring the camera to capture the day.
LOCAL LINKS –
Clembrook Christmas Farm, Milton
Wildhagen Greenhouses, Milton
Wills Christmas Store & Tree Farm, Hamilton
Mark’s Christmas Trees, Milgrove
Pinedale Christmas Tree Farms, Flamborough/Hamilton
Rinas Christmas Trees, Rockton
Watson Family Farm, Mount Hope
By Becky Dumais