It’s that wintry time of year to go out and search for the perfect Christmas tree, and I'm very picky about my yuletide lumber. When I lived in New York City, me and a few of my friends ran the biggest Christmas tree operation in New York, out in the Woodside section of Queens along Queens Boulevard. So I know my trees. I decided to start this Christmas tree quest at Sheridan Nursery which is run by the Dixon Family. Above is Mark Dixon who runs the joint along with his family.
I run across a shopper checking out wreaths and she is shy because she is not "dressed well for a picture."
They have some nice trees here, Balsams from Canada and Fraser Firs from North Carolina. Sizes up to ten feet. Impressive, but I’m in the holiday mood for something a little more exotic.
Inside the store they have some flocked trees, the kind that are painted to look like they have snow on them. I prefer a more natural look.
Sheridan Nursery is a professional setup, I buy a lot of plants there in the spring and they have all the latest gadgets to wrap your tree so you can pop it on the roof of your car and take it home. But I didn't find my tree and we move on.
My next stop is the Hoerr Nursery where they have horticulturists and certified arborist's on staff. These trees above are healthy looking full trees, but they only have Fraser Firs. The greenhouse they have them in keeps them nice and fresh, but it is a little sterile. These trees are hanging from the ceiling by ropes and I get the feeling I'm in a meat locker and I expect Rocky to show up and start beating the snot out of a tree. I expected more of a variety from an operation as huge as Hoerr's.
They did have these little Charlie Brown trees that are actually planted in these little pots that you can keep outdoors. These little trees remind me of one of my favorite Christmas tree selling stories. At our operation in New York, we started to drop the prices on the last couple days before Christmas, kind of like the stock market crashing on Christmas trees. The Russian Orthodox Church would celebrate Christmas on January 1 so there were always of few of those folks coming out on December 23 or 24 and looking to get a great deal, sometimes looking for too good a deal. So as I haggled with the guy over a fair price for trees, his wife would be selecting the one she wanted. I then would grab the tree she chose and put it over my knee with my saw in the middle of the tree and threaten to turn it into a Charlie Brown tree and cut it in half, she would freak out as if I was threatening her child and instantly tell her husband to fork over the money. Ah...such pleasant festive holiday memories.
One thing Hoerr's did have is an abundance of decorations, they even call it their Designer Collection. Wreaths, birch twigs, bough bunches, porch pots, cinnamon cones, berried juniper and on and on.
They also had some beautiful flowers including these lush red Poinsetta's.
There is no shortage of indoor decorations, lights and ornaments at Hoerr's. Nothing says Christmas like an indoor Christmas gazebo.
Another flocked tree and I have the temptation to change flocked to a very similar word. And who is that creepy Charles Dickens character sneaking into the picture.
These wreaths numerically represent how many trees I have. Two stops and no tree yet. I need some inspiration.
Jimmy's Bar on Farmington Road is the Church not only for holiday inspiration, but also for an imperial pint of Guinness.
I get a warm welcome and a cold beer from bartender, Kristen.
Of all the bars I have been in, there is no better decorated bar for the Christmas season than Jimmy's.
This year Jimmy Spears has outdone himself. These pictures don't do the place justice with all the intricate decorations. The jukebox is even synced to some of the Christmas lights. And after Christmas Jimmy goes a few steps further for New Year's Eve. You owe it to yourself to check it out. It'll put you in an instant good mood. I now have my inspiration and the bartender recommends a place for a tree...
Nena's Hardware on Forrest Hill is my destination.
Rodkym, one of the workers helps mount a tree on top of a car.
And here are the happy tree owners.
I believe I have found my Holy Grail! Check out this forest of Scotch Pine Trees.
Look at this beautiful closeup shot. Scotch Pines are the best Christmas tree. Long three inch soft needles, clustered and thick with a great spread. Green and bluish tones. These trees remain soft for a good month with proper watering and when the needles do dry out they don't fall off the tree. Keep your trees watered well and put a couple aspirin in your water, it helps the moisture work its way into the tree and it prevents your tree from getting a Holiday hangover. The biggest Scotch Pine I ever saw was about 80 feet tall in Rockefeller Center and it had a 500 pound star on top.
This is Jan Wolosek, the master Arborist who grew this tree from seed. He lives at his tree farm in Wisconsin Rapids. This guy knows what he is doing. For 25 years he has spent the month of December selling his trees in Peoria. My tree took over six years to grow and multiple times throughout the year he trims, shears and shapes his trees to get the perfect tree, and now it is mine.