Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Extend the Joy!

Christmas Tree Cut and tossed along road

Hello fellow readers,

I always feel sad when I see retired Christmas trees curbside. It feels wasteful, even though they’ve served their intended purpose, to toss them out in the trash when there is still more these beauties can do. Many towns have programs of gathering used Christmas trees; they turn into mulch. That’s useful. But before tossing them at the curb, check with your township to find out if they have collection drives and wait for that day rather than putting them out early. It’s more respectful than having them blow around in the streets.

Another option is to cut the branches off the trunk and use them around your plants to protect them from winter damage. Better yet, why not move your undecorated tree outside and keep in the stand. Then add heart-shaped ornaments for Valentine’s Day, shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, or any other wintery decorations that tickles your fancy. Maybe you’ll start a trend? Or embellish with cut dry things from your gardens as we did for our winter window boxes and have fun extending the joy. I’m not suggesting you keep your cut tree inside all winter, though. It’ll become dry and a fire hazard.

Some like to adorn their trees with bird food such as suet and birdseed made into ornaments. Even unbuttered, strung popcorn looks charming. I would only caution that you place your bird food tree where other critters will stay clear.

After you’ve enjoyed your Valentine’s turned St. Patrick’s Day tree, turn it into an animal shelter come spring. If you have a wooded area or permission to add to someone else’s, place it in a brush pile. Or, create a habitat for fish or water insects by sinking your tree in a pond, asking permission from the pond owner first, of course.

Jason from Washington saves his tree to use as a structure on which to grow climbing beans or cucumbers. Great idea, Jason. Santa would be proud.

Garden dilemmas?

     A side note: One year, my cut tree began producing candles in the spring. Candles are the lighter new growth that comes from the tips of each branch. There was enough energy stored in the trunk to push out the new growth. It felt magical and sad at the same time – sad it couldn’t produce new roots.

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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