The scent of Fraser firs, synonymous with Christmas, was strong as Jenny Addie talked about her nursery's large selection of freshly cut and live trees.
"Typically our biggest seller is the Fraser fir," said Addie, the nursery manager of Green Thumb West on Davis Road in Columbia County.
Green Thumb's Fraser firs were cut Thanksgiving morning and were delivered the next day, she said. Her offering of trees is just one of several now being displayed in the county as the Christmas season begins to pick up steam.
As the holidays get in full swing, area tree-lot owners have plenty of tips for those in the market for a tree.
First of all, lot owners say that dryness is the primary cause of shedding needles and a poor-looking tree.
Glenn Brown, of Snowy Mountain Tree Farm in Martinez, said customers should immediately put their tree into water.
"We trim the bottoms of the tree when we sell it to people," Brown said. "You just keep water in it ... Don't let your stand go dry."
Addie reminds her customers to make a fresh cut on the bottom of the tree as well.
"(The tree sap) seals off the cells of the tree, but if you make a fresh cut, then the tree can keep on absorbing the moisture," she said.
When buying a Christmas tree, customers also should examine it to make sure it has received plenty of moisture. Buying a tree shortly after it is cut is best, Addie said.
"Pull one of the branches, and if no needles come off it's a pretty fresh tree," said Roger Goforth, of Plum Tree Farms on Washington Road in Columbia County.
The color of the tree, whether the green is a deep rich color, is another indicator of the health of the tree, Addie said.
"Typically, if it gets a bluey-gray, slightly cool (color) to the needles, then that's showing it's getting a little bit dehydrated," Addie said.
Another aspect of displaying a Christmas tree is safety. Browne said that one of the most common mistakes people make is putting their tree near an active heat source.
"If you have a vent or something, cut that off if it's near it," he said.
In addition to cut trees, some lots and nurseries sell live Christmas trees.
Green Thumb West sells live white pine, Norway spruce and hemlock trees with their root systems wrapped in burlap.
With live trees, Addie recommended wrapping the burlap-covered root ball with wet newspapers and sealing it closed with plastic bags.
Addie said some customers prefer the live trees so that they can replant them in their yards after Christmas.
"The secret with the ball and burlap trees is the least time they are in the house the better they are," Addie said.
The nursery manager said that the first year, and especially the hot Augusta summers, are very stressful on these trees once they've been planted.
"Once you do plant them, keep them well-hydrated," she said.
Christmas Tree Lots in Columbia County include:
Green Thumb West
110 Davis Road, Martinez
Cost: Trees from $49.99 to $85
Snowy Mountain Tree Farm
West Town Shopping Center, Martinez and National Hills Shopping Center, Augusta
Cost: Trees from $10 (2-foot) to $60 and up for very tall trees
Plum Tree Farms
Washington Road across from Club Car
Cost: Trees range in price but generally $10 per foot
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