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The Treat Tree

Repurpose your Christmas tree for feathered friends.
by Kathy Van Mullekom, a lifelong gardener and gardening writer living in York County, Virginia

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree … how beautiful you glow … but now you need to go. Hold that thought. Yes, days after December 25th, your once glowing Christmas tree looks a little sad – and probably dry. Before you toss the no-longer-needed tree in the trash, give some thought to how it can be used outdoors.

It’s fun for all ages to transform an indoor Christmas tree into an outdoor “treat tree” for songbirds. For eye-catching treats, collect 12 to 18 pinecones. Use a popsicle stick or old butter knife to smear peanut butter over each pinecone. Fill an old dish or sturdy paper plate with bird seed of any kind and roll the peanut butter-smeared pinecones in the seed mix. Use twine or leftover gift ribbons to loop a hanger around the top portion of the pinecone. Hang the pinecones on your “treat tree.”

The tree can also support homemade suet feeders, using half of hollowed-out orange and grapefruit skins. Suet can be made from any seed, grain, nuts, fruits and raisins by mixing them with warmed bacon fat, lard or peanut butter. Peanut butter can be mixed with cornmeal or oatmeal to form a suet mixture, too. Place the suet in a tuna or cat food can or similar to container to chill until firm. Cookie cutters can be used for fancier shapes that can be hung.

To embellish your wildlife tree further, string together overripe fruits – blueberries, cranberries, grapes, even slices of oranges and apples. Weave the garland loosely around the tree. Popcorn works, too. Cheerios are easy for youngster’s small hands to string. With winter’s cold temps, your “treat tree” will offer several weeks of much-needed healthy eating for the beautiful birds that will thank you with songs and sensational sights.

photos from Kathy Van Mullekom

A Fresh-Cut Christmas

WREATHS, ROPING, TREES AND ACCENTS

Still sprucing up? There's still plenty of time to get your home holiday-ready with fresh and fragrant greens. Roping, wreaths and accent greens will add instant holiday cheer to your banisters, mantels, fences and doorways. It's easy to dress up patio urns, window boxes and planters with bunches of our greens adorned with beautiful ribbons or hand-tied bows. Take a look at what you'll find just around the corner at your local garden center...

Cut Christmas Tree Our fresh cut Christmas trees bring magic to your home. We hand-pick every tree to ensure a uniform shape, thick branches, rich color and superior fragrance. Choose from any of our locally grown North Carolina Fraser Firs.

Greeter Door Charms with Bow - This handmade combination of Noble Fir, Berried Juniper and cones is perfect for table décor, a door charm or even in a window. Eighteen inches long this holiday must-have is pre-dipped to extend shelf life.

Wreaths - Our fresh wreaths are a mix of Noble Fir, Berried Juniper, Western Red Cedar and Ponderosa Pine Cones, and are available in 18-inch, 20-inch, 24-inch, 28-inch and 32-inch. Using a live wreath as your canvas, you can add embellishments for easy decor inside and out. Pre-dipped for extended shelf life and hand tied. This makes the perfect statement on your front door.but we also even like replacing a picture on the wall with a wreath or hang on a mirror.

Roping - Adorn porches, entryways, mantles and more with traditional white pine or cedar roping.

Ideas for Decorating:

  • To create a natural wreath. Simply tie a natural burlap ribbon to the wreath and use other natural trimmings such as nandina berries, holly sprigs or even pine cones. These items can be wired to the wreath with floral wire.
  • To create a more decorative wreath. Choose ribbon that matches your holiday decor. You can then use picks and even ornaments to create pizzazz. These can be wired to the wreath so that they stay in place.
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Gifts from the Greenhouse

Christmas is just days away and it’s no secret that plants and flowers are a big part of the season. There are so many plants that spark thoughts of the holidays like the poinsettia, cyclamen, rosemary and many more. Think outside the box this year and give a living gift to make their Christmas merry and bright! Here's a few of our favorite holiday plants guaranteed to please...

Hydrangeas - Hydrangeas aren't just for outdoors in the spring and summer. Use them indoors during the cool winter months and then plant outside to enjoy year after year. Choose from traditional hydrangeas and our Shooting Star variety.

Poinsettias - Nowadays, this holiday classic is popping up in all sorts of nontraditional colors – in shades of pink, peach, yellow, and even chartreuse. Or, try one of McDonald’s painted poinsettias that are hand-painted and glittered in a rainbow of colors. Many even have large, double, or uniquely shaped blooms and come in all shapes and sizes.

Cyclamen - This cool weather bloomer comes in shades of pink, lavender, deep purple, white, or red. Cyclamen add fantastic color throughout the holidays and into the winter.

Norfolk Island Pine - This little beauty with soft needles, distinctive flat branches and a naturally symmetrical shape is a popular choice for indoors. The small and medium size varieties of the Norfolk Island pine are often used as accent trees during the holidays and make a great tabletop tree for offices, apartments or anywhere space is limited.

Citrus - Give an “a-peeling” gift this season! The fragrance of the flowers, the bright colors of the fruit and the glossy foliage make this a great plant to give. Keep indoors during winter, and once it warms up, these beauties love to vacation outdoors.

Hellebores - Hellebores offer beautiful blooms in the garden through winter and early spring. This intriguing perennial is surely the star of a winter landscape. Sometimes called the Christmas Rose or Lenten Rose, these interesting flowers will bloom through the dreary days of winter.

Rosemary Cones & Topiaries - This perennial evergreen features fragrant, needle-like leaves in silvery gray green. Rosemary is hardy and easy to grow and is also very useful. Among its many uses, it's prized in the culinary world for its flavorful leaves. It also has a lovely fragrance and pretty, petite blue flowers in spring. Potted rosemary trimmed into a topiary looks elegant in the kitchen or any other room during the winter and provides herbs for cooking.

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