Tree of the Month
When I’m driving along on my book selling trips and suddenly burst out singing “How Great Thou Art,” it’s usually in response to a tree, one of God’s most amazing and useful creations! In early spring driving through middle Georgia there are more shades of green than one can imagine. Shortly after, Tennessee highways are lined with red buds blooming their little hearts out. When summer comes I hate to leave my street where the rhododendrons and laurel droop with blooms. Then, there’s the autumn trees. The Blue Ridge all the way to New England is breathtaking. But this month, it’s all about the tree of the month, the North Carolina Fraser Fir.
Here in the mountains of western North Carolina we begin to see “our” trees coming down the mountain sides on big trucks in November heading for the Northeast, south as far as Miami and as far west as Texas. Christmas tree lots pop up in cities everywhere with 2 X 4s stobbed into the ground to support the trees displayed under overhead lines of light bulbs. Most of these lots will announce the arrival of the North Carolina Fraser, America’s ideal Christmas tree.
Named for John Fraser, a Scottish botanist, the trees were discovered in the 1700s growing only in five places in the world: Richland Balsam, Grandfather Mountain, Clingmans Dome, Mt. Mitchell, and Mt. Rogers; all right here in western NC. The tree is now widely cultivated above 3000 feet where the cool temperatures and high rainfall allow the tree to retain its needles throughout the season. Because of the glossy needles, intense fragrance, and the natural “Christmas tree” shape, the tree is the number one choice in America.
At any time there are 50 million of these trees in the ground here in NC, on about 33,300 acres of Christmas tree farms, 1500 trees to an acre. Every tree farm has seven stands of trees, as it takes seven years before the tree is ready to harvest. A Christmas tree farmer and an author are alike in that it takes passion, hard work, patience and determination. Thanks Tar Heel Tree Farmers for making Christmas special.