Cut Your Own at Local Farms
Set aside a few hours one week-end; grab your mittens and slip on some hiking boots for a walk among beautiful evergreens—shopping for your ideal Christmas tree. With any luck, you’ll catch a glimpse of scampering foxes and bounding deer as well as lively sparrows and cardinals. Take a thermos of hot cocoa, your camera, a few friends and loved ones, and wander the rolling hills and country lanes of Anne Arundel County’s local tree farms. The adventure is free, the tree—a bargain.
Choosing and harvesting your own Christmas tree may become a family tradition. There are three Christmas tree farms in the Annapolis area:
• Friendship Tree Farm on Route 2 south of Rte. 261 in South County.410-741-5712 Opens Friday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 25th); Weekdays 12-4:30pm & week-ends 9am–4:30pm Tools provided. Trees start @ $40; Container trees @ $10/foot; Rental trees available. No credit cards.
• Dent Creek Farm at 1266 Deep Cove Rd; off Muddy Creek Road in Churchton. 410-867-2438 Opens December 1st. Please call for hours. Tools provided. Any tree $25. No credit cards.
• Masque Farm off Spa Road at Forest Drive in Annapolis. 410-757-4454 Opens Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26th); Weekends only, 9am–4pm Tools provided. Any tree $40. (The farm will sell only 300 trees, then close for the season. In 2004, Masque Farm sold out in one week.)
Floyd Thiel’s Friendship Tree Farm is the place to go for the complete Christmas experience. Mr. Thiel has cultivated a variety of evergreens for 23 years on 36 acres of rolling hills; today his partners Bruce Nuckols and Darrell Dockery assist with the year-round tasks of planting and “shirring” or trimming the lovely trees that flourish on the farm. As you turn off Old Solomons Island Road into the farm, drive up the lane and park near the farm house; start your adventure by walking among the beautiful stand of mature trees. You can closely examine each variety of tree available on the farm before you begin the search for your own ideal Christmas tree.
After you’ve oohed and aahed over the graceful conifers, grab a saw at the barn and head over the hill and past the pond in search of your perfect tree. (If you expect to bring home a big tree, take a wagon along into the fields. Three red wagons devised from old bicycles and wheelchairs rest against the shed walls, built some years ago to entertain Floyd Thiel’s grandchildren. Rumor has it, the wagons were so fast, Grandma put a stop to the Christmas season’s wagon races.)
Once you’ve found the perfect tree, a few pulls on the saw will to pple your tree. (Usually, one of the farm’s helpers is nearby if you need some help.) Drag or carry it triumphantly back to the barns and parking area. While you’re paying for your Christmas tree and it’s being bound for transporting, you can admire and perhaps buy one or two of Marty Nuckols’ prize-winning, fresh-cut wreaths. You’ll find them hanging, splashes of green and red, against the gray barn’s siding. The boughs Marty weaves into her wreaths are fresh and fragrant. You may even pick up a jar or two of golden honey gathered from the farm’s four hives, which Darrell Dockery lovingly tends. There’s nothing better than fresh honey on toast for the hungry crew after an evening of decorating the tree.
If you want a fresh tree, but you don’t have time for a long drive and a vigorous walk, Masque Farm offers a selection of well-tended Christmas tree s virtually inside the city limits. Bob and Ann Giffin tend the ten acres of trees planted on land handed down by Bob’s grandfather. Bob enjoys sharing his farm’s beauty and bounty, and he’s proud of the trees he cultivates. Examine the powder-blue needles of a blue spruce; run your palm over the soft, long needles of the white pine. Inhale the citrus and spice fragrance of a concolor fir and the pungent, familiar scent of a Douglas fir. Pause to peek among the trees’ branches for a tiny bird’s nest. Masque Farm’s well-tended rows of evergreens provide an easy adventure. But remember, once 300 trees are sold, Bob and Ann close the gates and leave the farm’s trees to the wild things and a blanket of snow.
And, if your budget is limited, Jim Anderson and his mom Gerda Nutwell sell their fresh trees for $25 each at Dent Creek Farm. While they have fewer trees from which to choose, Mrs. Nutwell reminds us that every tree is beautiful when draped in the decorations we love.
Finally, our tree farmers have a few cautionary reminders for choosing your tree: First, be sure your tree will fit in your home; trees look smaller in the field than in your living room. Second, consider your tree’s audience. If you have pets, you may want the short, sharp needles of a blue spruce. One prick to the nose will keep your curious pet out of the branches—maybe. Lots of heavy ornaments and little helpers decorating? Try a Fraser fir; its needles are softer; it smells wonderful and has strong branches for those weighty baubles. Looking for that traditional tree you’ve seen on every Christmas card? That’s probably the Scotch pine. This people-friendly variety has strong branches and dark green needles that refuse to fall, even if you forget to water the tree. Scotch pines usually have lots of space between the branches for dangling candy canes and floating angels. And the aroma of the Scotch pine will announce the Holidays each time you enter the room.
The Holiday season is filled with ceremonies and traditions symbolized for many of us by the Christmas tree. In years to come, your children and friends may follow the traditions you’re sharing with them this Christmas season. Imagine your home at Christmas—twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments draped on the graceful bows of a fragrant pine or fir tree. This may be the year you decide to leave the artificial tree in the attic. You don’t have to be a woodsman to bring home a perfect fresh-cut Christmas tree.