Wreath Workshop Wrap Up

This article by Christine Gelley was originally published by The Noble Journal Leader on December 3, 2018.

For the third year, the Noble County Master Gardener Volunteers hosted a set of Holiday Wreath Making Workshops at the Ball-Caldwell House during the week following Thanksgiving. Over three sessions, thirty-six people from Noble and surrounding counties created their own unique wreaths from freshly cut evergreen material.

Each class started with the same material stock, but no two wreaths were alike. With themes ranging from natural to glitzy, the personality and individuality of the wreath creators were apparent in their designs. Fresh locally cut greenery of pine, fir, cedar, boxwood, juniper, and holly provided varieties of colors, shapes, textures, and scents. The results were stunning.


Along with a beautiful holiday decoration, attendees took home knowledge about how to care for greenery indoors. This includes keeping flammable greenery away from heat sources, both due to the risk for a fire and to prevent premature drying of the material.

Many Americans still enjoy a fresh-cut live tree during Christmas. Live trees are wonderful from a nature enthusiast’s perspective because they bring the peace of the outdoors into your home. Meticulous housekeepers may prefer artificial trees because they are easy to pack, store, and are less messy. However, artificial trees are less environmentally friendly than cut trees.

Artificial trees are not easily recyclable and they do not biodegrade. Live trees on the other hand can be turned into wildlife habitat, kindling for a campfire, or compost after the holidays.

Anytime you bring plants inside there is a risk that insects, birds, or a mammal could be at home in the tree. Check for and remove any insect or bird’s nests, before decorating your tree to help prevent accidental home invaders. Remember that any pests you encounter on an evergreen tree chose the tree as their habitat. Therefore, most hitchhikers in your house would not become a residential pest.

The number one rule of setting up a live Christmas tree is keeping it watered. The tree water pan should be checked each day and adequately refilled. This will help prevent the needles from drying out and lower your risk of a holiday house fire.

For more information about using fresh cut evergreens as décor during the holidays, call the Extension Office at 740-732-5681 and ask for Christine.

The Noble County Master Gardener Volunteers thank everyone who attended the workshops for their creativity and enthusiasm. We also thank the Noble County Historical Society for providing a beautiful setting for the classes. We look forward to offering this event again in 2019.


Recycle Your Christmas Tree

If you featured a live tree in your home this holiday season, don’t sell your tree’s life short by leaving it out on the curb for trash pickup. Yes, the holidays have passed and it may be time to change your home decor once again, but that doesn’t have to be the end of life for your Christmas tree. Live trees are 100% recyclable. Here are some great ways to recycle your tree:

  1. Redecorate it as a Bird Feeder- This is a great project for kids and grown-ups alike. Find a place outside where you can leave your tree this winter, ideally within sight from a household window. Relocate your tree and decorate it with food for the birds. Dry fruit, grains, and seeds make excellent bird food. Make your own edible ornaments by decorating pinecones with peanut butter and bird seed. Use biodegradable twine or cotton yarn to hang the pinecones on the tree. Redecorate as needed through the winter and enjoy the sights and sounds of those who visit.
  2. Sink it in a Private Fish Pond- Christmas trees make great fish habitat. Sink your tree by attaching it to a concrete block near a bank. Recycled trees can provide fish habitat for 5-7 years before being replaced.
  3. Chip It- Raw wood chips are useful as ground cover, weed control, animal bedding, and composting. Some communities offer tree collection events and then donate the chips for community service projects.

Reduce, reuse, recycle! Why not start the year off with a resolution to recycle? For addition information about recycling and how you can get involved click here to visit the National Christmas Tree Association‘s manual on Community Recycling Programs.

Caring for Christmas Trees

This article was originally published in The Journal on December 12, 2016.

Every year there is inevitable discussion about when it becomes appropriate to decorate for Christmas and when it is time to put décor away. As far as I am concerned, anytime is the right time if you are decorating your own home. I personally start getting decorations out about the second week of December and they’re typically stored away by Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That happens to be about 5 weeks of holiday cheer, which happens to be how long most cut and properly cared for Christmas trees will sustain their needles.

There is something special about a live tree at Christmas. Most are pleasantly fragrant, each is unique, and a wide variety of choices are available to suit your preferences. When selecting a tree for your home there are some helpful tips that you can keep in mind for a smooth transition:

  1. Measure-Think about where you want to put the tree before you bring one home. Measure the space and then take a tape measure with you and verify that the tree you choose will fit.
  1. Fresher is Better- A fresh tree should have rich color and flexible needles. Very few needles should fall from the tree when shaken. Once the tree is cut it begins to produce resin (a.k.a. “sap”) to seal the wound created by the cut. While this helps seal in moisture for a temporary time period, it must be removed in order to draw up additional water through the trunk. It is always a good idea to remove at least one inch of the trunk before placing your tree in water at home.
  1. Keep Your Tree Watered- Your tree stand should be able to hold at least 1 gallon of water. A fresh tree can draw up 2 quarts or more of water on the first day in the tree stand. Check the water level regularly (daily is ideal). The water line should always meet the cut trunk and never sit below the trunk. Water additives to preserve the tree are not necessary and have not been proven to increase needle retention. Plain tap water is sufficient. A dry tree is a fire hazard and also a mess to remove from your home. Remember that lights on the tree create heat, which could increase the risk of a fire. Damaged cords and overloaded outlets are also concerns. Mini lights and LED lights produce less heat than traditional bulbs, but it is still a good idea to turn lights off at night or when no one is home to reduce the risk of fire.
  1. Consider Recycling: After the tree has fulfilled its purpose, consider recycling the remaining material. These trees make great composed mulch and also can enhance wildlife habitats.
Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org