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Christmas Tree Shop

Selecting the Perfect Christmas Tree

Michael Fahey, Merrifield Plant Specialist and ISA Certified Arborist

Updated December 2021. This post was originally published in December of 2018.

The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to pick out the family Christmas tree. Other than the annual trip to take the kids to see Santa, there’s perhaps no better tradition than gathering the family together for a trip to the nursery to pick out the perfect tree, and then taking it home to decorate. For many, this is a fun and collaborative effort that results in getting just the right tree for your home. But for others, it can be a challenge to get everyone to agree on the best Christmas tree, especially with so many options to choose from. At Merrifield Garden Center, we carry thousands of high quality Christmas trees, which come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures. To help you navigate this forest of fresh-cut Christmas trees, here is a quick guide on some of the different varieties we have to offer so you can choose the perfect one for your home.

Fraser Fir, Christmas Tree

Fraser Fir

Fraser firs are one of the most popular Christmas trees we sell, and for good reason. The soft, sturdy needles are dark green with a silvery underside, and have that traditional Christmas tree aroma. Strong, dense branches are perfect for those of us who like to decorate a tree with a lot of ornaments. These trees have a uniform habit with a nice tapered shape from top to bottom, providing a consistent look to the tree on all sides.

Concolor Fir

Concolor Firs come from the mountains of Pennsylvania, and maintain the strength for holding ornaments of the Fraser Fir but with longer needles and a softer feel and appearance. They have a fuller and more rounded shape than the Fraser Fir, with silvery blue tinted needles.

Turkish Fir, Christmas Tree

Turkish Fir

My personal favorite, Turkish firs have a great look and feel to them. The needles are succulent and juicy with a nice, citrus-like fragrance. The top sides of the needles have a darker green color while the undersides have a silvery sheen, which creates and a nice bi-color appearance. Turkish firs have a very open, almost perfectly lateral branching habit, which gives them a nice layered appearance. This branching structure makes them perfect for holding larger ornaments.

Noble Fir, Christmas Tree

Noble Fir

Noble firs have many of the same qualities as the Turkish firs. However, their subtle fragrance is more in line with the traditional Christmas tree aroma.  While the needles at the ends of the branches of the Turkish firs are slightly weeping, the needles on the Noble fir curl up on the ends of the branches.

Douglas Fir, Christmas Tree

Douglas Fir

Douglas firs have softer needles and a lighter green color than their fir cousins. Their fragrance is more of a piney aroma. Douglas firs are sheared by the grower and therefore have a nice, consistent, pyramidal shape that many people enjoy.

Blue Spruce, Christmas Tree

Blue Spruce

Blue spruce have hard needles with a slight fragrance and a rigid branching habit, which allows them to hold heavy ornaments better than other trees. As their name implies, the needles have a blue cast. The combination of the tan hues of the stems with the vegetative buds at the ends of all the branches create an interesting contrast that many people enjoy

White Pine, Christmas Tree

White Pine

White pines have long, soft needles that are very fine, with a light green color. These trees have a less fragrant aroma than others. White pines are a great choice for people who enjoy a softer looking and feeling Christmas tree. They are a good choice for lighter ornaments, but do not hold heavier ones very well.

Christmas Collections for Every Home

The holidays are a special time at Merrifield Garden Center. From the moment you walk in the door, you’re immersed in the charming sights, scents and spirit of the season.

One of my favorite parts about Christmas at Merrifield is designing the shop, which showcases our hand-selected decorations for customers to enjoy. This year, we’ve created twenty unique themes throughout the store, each with its own style featuring different types of décor. Whether you visit our Fair Oaks location or one of our other stores, I hope you enjoy the themes our teams have put together this year!

I love all of this year’s themes, but I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites to give you a “sneak peek” of this year’s Christmas Shop. I would encourage you to visit the store to experience the magic of our Christmas Shop in person!

Pageant in the Woods

Our “Pageant in the Woods” theme features adorable animals and woodland themed decorations which appear to have wondered in off a forest path or jumped out of the pages of a story book. At our Fair Oaks store, we’ve designed two trees in this theme.

The “Woodland Tree” features textured bristle animals reminiscent of the creatures you might encounter on a quiet winter walk. These delightful critters look perfectly at home on a Christmas tree or in a woodland themed holiday display gracing a table or shelf.

Christmas Tree, Holiday Decor

Woodland Tree

The “Woodland Tree” features textured bristle animals reminiscent of the creatures you might encounter on a quiet winter walk. These delightful critters look perfectly at home on a Christmas tree or in a woodland themed holiday display gracing a table or shelf.

Christmas Tree, Holiday Decor

Felt Tree

Whimsical felt ornaments with a soft, wooly texture adorn our “Felt Tree”. This collection of lovable characters is sure to put a smile on your face, evoking some of our favorite classic children’s stories featuring dapper mice, sly foxes and other characters.

Christmas Tree, Holiday Decor

O Tannenbaum

Die-cut wood ornaments and décor with an Old World European style make up our “O Tannenbaum” collection. If you love charming details and the feeling of being in a cozy chalet, this theme is perfect for you!

Some of our featured décor from this collection are made just down the road in central Virginia! Our Inge-glas German glass, KWO German smokers, and the TRC Ginger Cottage collection are worth checking out.

Christmas Tree, Holiday Decor

10 Things to do to Wrap Up and Prepare for the Holidays

Mary Kirk Menefee, Merrifield Landscape Designer

If you are anything like me, January 2 comes with a strong desire to hit refresh. By the weekend after New Year’s, my refrigerator is stocked with leafy greens, lean proteins and citrus fruits, and I am ready to launch into a round of committed cooking. But wait! There is a drooping tree still in the living room, a putrid amaryllis on the table next to a spent Frasier Fir candle, and the remains of Christmas projects lurking in corners and under chairs. Before I can truly start the new year, I need to put the old one away.

Here is the usual routine:

  • Retrieve the storage boxes from wherever they were shoved when all of the decorations came out.
  • Carefully remove ornaments from the tree, wrap in tissue and place at random in the storage box.
  • Maneuver the tree out to the dumpster cursing the dry dropping needles all the way.
  • Place other decorations in storage boxes with no consideration for their condition. My decreasing fondness for the general accumulation of items or any organizing principle other than how fast can I make these things fit into boxes.
  • Shove all boxes, wrapping supplies, etc., into as compact a group as possible and place on a high shelf to be retrieved 11 long months from now.
  • Vacuum, change bag, vacuum again, curse needles and glitter, vacuum again.
  • Take a deep breath and revel in the calm feeling that accompanies a good de-Christmassing. It is the perfect counter-balance to the pride and excitement of having decorated the house exquisitely six weeks ago.
  • Get on with the cooking and maybe a good playoff game.

Now, I don’t think this is a terrible performance. There are those people who can’t manage to get the tree down before Valentine’s Day, and I can congratulate myself on promptness. But in 11 not-so-long months, I’ll be kicking myself as the disorganized mess parades itself out of the storage boxes.

I’ll buy a fresh set of gift boxes, only to realize I have plenty up on that high shelf, but I’ll fail to buy whatever thing stopped working this year before all of the stores are out of it. I won’t have ornament hooks on the day we decorate the tree. I’ll run out of Scotch tape half way through wrapping the presents. I’ll once again miss the post office’s deadline for mailing packages and have to sweat out whether gifts will reach their destinations in time. I won’t let these missteps sap my holiday joy, but I’ll know I could have done better. This year, I want to do better – not for eager New Year’s Resolution Me – for Future Holiday Me who will have worked hard all year and will deserve an organized, well-curated start to her festive season.

Here are 10 ideas to put last year’s holidays to bed and give yourself a fantastic start to next year’s holiday season:

  1. Curate your collection

Take a hard look at all of your decorations, dishes, candles, etc. What has gotten shabby or dated? What has been replaced by a better one? Make a point to throw out or donate anything that is no longer a valued member of the collection.

  1. Repair or toss broken/damaged decorations

Assess whether any given repair is worth your time and money. In other words, are you ever, really, going to figure out why that strand of lights keeps blowing a fuse? Everything in the not-worth-it and beyond-repair categories should go directly in the trash. Save your time and effort for gluing the sequins back on the Popsicle stick ornament your child made in kindergarten.

  1. Organize your Christmas tree ornaments

Take time to lay out all of the ornaments and separate them into categories. Put the “filler” ornaments in the bottom of the storage box. Put anything hard to attach or that goes deep in the tree near the top of the box. Next time you decorate, you’ll be able to pull it out and put it on early, when the task is easiest. Put all of the most special ornaments on the very top so that the joy of seeing them kicks off the tree-trimming. You’ll also ensure that they get the best spots!

  1. Make of list of needs for next year

Note anything you ran out of, were missing, needed to be thrown out, etc. Put your list on the very top of the first storage box you usually open. Better yet, attach your list to your November calendar so you run into it before you even get started.

  1. Visit after-Christmas sales and then revise your list

Take advantage of January’s deep discounts on holiday items at sales like Merrifield’s annual After-Christmas Sale.  You can reduce the size of your list from #4, leaving less to do next November and December.

  1. Make note of important dates and deadlines

Review your holiday timeline and list in order the milestones that you must hit to make your season run smoothly. Does your farmer need your heritage turkey order by August? Does your favorite restaurant start taking New Year’s Eve reservations on November 1? What are the various shipping deadlines for the post office and your favorite online retailer? For bonus points, put all of these dates in your calendar now!

  1. Make notes of things that worked and didn’t

One last list! Review and write down your advice to yourself for next season. i.e., No one ate the pistachio candies for the second year in a row—consider making something else instead. All the kids are getting older and more responsible—move Christmas dinner a couple of hours earlier. The tree lasted much longer this year—make sure it gets water within 30 minutes of a fresh cut. Put all of the lists (#4, #6, #7) together, again, in a place where you will find it at the very start of the season.

  1. Make this the year to migrate your contacts to your computer

Streamline your old address book, the one where all of the blanks are filled in with outdated addresses and sticky notes scribbled with all of the updated addresses. I did this four years ago when we were planning our wedding, and while I shed a nostalgic tear or two over the old hand-written book, everything easier on Excel. There are a number of apps that can take you even farther into the 21st century, just find something that works for you.

  1. Brush up on care for perennial holiday plants

Clip the faded flowers off the amaryllis. If you are planning to keep plants such as Christmas cactus, review what you’ll need to do to bring back that beautiful holiday display at the right time.

  1. Keep your home’s exterior looking sharp

Take down the lights and the red glitter, but don’t leave your home bare between now and daffodil time. Many wreaths and decorations can be converted from a holiday to a winter theme with simple changes. Outdoor containers can be refreshed with plain cut greens until pansies hit the shelves in late February. For bare spots in the garden, check out winter bloomers, such as helleborus, camellia and witch hazel.