It may not feel like a very traditional holiday season – and by any standard, it is not – but for many it’s more important than ever this year to maintain some of the same traditions that have filled our lives with so much meaning and so many fond, family memories over the years. A Christmas tree, of course – that universal symbol of hope, joy and celebration – is where most of us start when it comes to kicking off our holiday decorating.
The North Carolina Fraser Fir: Star of the Show
North Carolina is fortunate to be home to over 850 growers that produce an astounding 25% of the nation’s entire supply of Christmas trees. Grown primarily in the more mountainous counties of our state – Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Watauga, and Jackson – where soil, climate and elevation combine to create the ideal growing environment, North Carolina Christmas trees are among the highest quality and fastest-growing in the country.
Around 95% of this prize crop of trees are Fraser fir, a species that is successfully grown throughout the southern Appalachians from western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee to southern Virginia. Designated as our state’s official Christmas tree in 2005, the Fraser fir requires a growing time from seedling to maturity of just 6-12 years, depending on size when cut and a variety of growing conditions, and is popular not only for its beauty – needles are dark bluish-green and the shape of the tree is classically pyramid shaped – but for its pleasing scent and the fact that even after shipping, a tree will typically hold onto its needles for far longer than other types of Christmas trees. NC Fraser firs are shipped nationwide and as far away as the Caribbean, Canada, Europe and Asia.
Demand during this challenging year has proven to be very high for trees, and most of North Carolina’s twenty-two Christmas tree farms have been busy welcoming customers since Thanksgiving weekend, although new mask-wearing and social distancing regulations are now firmly in place and appointments are typically encouraged. Some “extras” such as wagon rides or gift shops may not be available in 2020 where they have been in the past, but easy payment methods have been developed and on many farms, for a change, a small number of trees – once again, depending on the lot – are cut and ready to pick up and go.
Shady Rest Tree Farm, Glendale Springs
Shady Rest’s “Select & Ship” policy allows visitors to select and tag their tree at any point during the year. On-the-spot purchasing and online ordering are also available, with no tree being cut until the day on which it is sold or shipped. Shady Rest Tree Farm is open every day between 9am and 5pm.
Bear Valley Farm, Glenville
Bear Valley Farm offers as close to the kind of traditional tree-cutting experience as possible in 2020: hot drinks and personalized service in a lovely mountain setting. Operations will extend this year through the 20th of December, with appointment available through the 24th for last minute purchases.
Mistletoe Meadows, Laurel Springs
Mistletoe Meadows, whose claim to fame was as provider of the 2007 White House Christmas tree, features not only acres of Fraser fir, but white pine, blue spruce and cypress as well. This family-focused operation has been in business for over 30 years.
Local Christmas Tree Stands
Although most Christmas trees statewide are sold in large commercial outlets such as Home Depot or Wal-Mart, every town has its own local tree lots where you can choose your own pre-cut tree and support a local small business owner at the same time. Check out the following neighborhood lots and farms.
Boyce Farms Christmas Trees and Wreaths, 2813 Mount Vernon Church Road. Choose-and-cut and pre-cut Fraser fir; pre-flocked trees; large selection of wreaths, swags and white pine roping.
Back Achers Christmas Tree Farm, 4533 Inwood Road. Fraser fir, white pine, Virginia pine, cypress, Carolina sapphire; garlands, wreaths, stands, Fraser fir bundles for decorating; firewood and tree disposal bags.
Raleigh City Farm – Trees available at Salvation Army, 902 Wake Forest Road. Eco-friendly Christmas trees and wreaths; open through December 20.
Phillips Farms, 6701 Good Hope Church Road. Trees and wreaths; socially distanced visits with Mr. & Mrs. Claus (with or without photo); wreath-making classes.
Cranberry Tree Farm, 1100 Reedy Creek Road. 2- to 14-foot trees; tree stands and home delivery; wreaths and garlands; live trees in 5-gallon containers.
Mountain Advantage Christmas Trees, Corner of Penny Rd./Holly Springs Rd. as well as 5777 Holly Springs Rd. in Holly Springs. Fresh-cut Frasier firs, wreaths, garlands and bows.
Saint Francis UMC Christmas Tree Lot, 2965 Kildaire Farm Road. Proceeds benefit church missions; order online; delivery available; limit 25 people at a time.
Holidays by Trosa, 6 locations Duham/Chapel Hill/Morrisville (https://www.holidaysbytrosa.com/). Proceeds benefit local non-profit; Fraser firs up to 15 feet; wreaths, garlands, tree stands.
Perkins Orchard, 5749 Barbee Road. Christmas trees and wreaths, fresh cut daily; garlands, poinsettias; holiday lights; ciders and produce.
JDJ’s Berry Patch, 1223 Salem Church Rd. Fresh Fraser firs, wreaths and stands; delivery available.
Jordan Lake Christmas Tree Farm, 2170 Martha’s Chapel Rd. Live trees, tabletop trees, wreaths and garlands; hayrides; online ordering; Santa visits.
Smith’s Family Fun Farm, 1715 St. Mary’s Road. Story time with Santa; hot chocolate and cookies; white pine, cedar, Fraser fir.
Mountain Branch Farm, 1660 Cornwallis Road. Choose-and-cut trees, live trees; cedar and pine, 5-12 feet; open through December 24.