Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, from our Family at Shady Gardens

Christmas Trees: Is a Real Tree a Good Thing?

Fresh cut Christmas Trees are enjoyed each year by 30 million people. I have often been saddened by this practice, since taking a cut tree into the house for decorating means that a tree must die.

However, purchasing a cut Christmas Tree for your home can be a good thing for several reasons.

Many people are still out of work, and any time you purchase something grown here in the United States, you are helping provide jobs for American workers.

Most fresh cut Christmas Trees are from Christmas Tree Farms near you--farms that are owned by small business owners. Purchasing your tree from a Christmas Tree Farm near you helps to keep your neighbors in business! Local farm produce stands and locally owned garden centers often sell fresh cut trees or even potted ones you can plant to enjoy for years to come.

Christmas Trees are often grown on land that is unsuitable for other types of farming. The kinds of trees grown for Christmas trees can be grown on poor soil. By using these fields, tree farmers help to control erosion and provide year-round homes for wildlife.

One acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen for the daily needs of 18 people. (Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.)

Trees help filter dust and smog from the air.

Christmas Trees are 100% biodegradable. There are several ways your tree can be used after the Christmas season is over. The tree can be ground into mulch for the garden, it can be moved to the edge of your property as a nesting area for small wildlife, or the branches can be cut small for use as firestarters.

On Christmas Tree farms, for every Christmas Tree harvested, usually up to three seedlings are planted in its place.

Choosing your tree at the local Christmas Tree Farm can be a very fun family outing!

So if you're in the market for a Christmas Tree this year, consider helping a local business owner by choosing a real cut Christmas Tree!

For more information about real tree farming, please visit Real Trees 4 Kids.

And for even more fun and interesting information, go to the
National Christmas Tree Association website where you'll find a link to help you find a Christmas Tree farm near you.

Christmas Tree for the Birds

Decorating for Christmas is a wonderful way to spend time together as a family. Once we get the inside of our house decorated each year, we try to involve the children in providing for our wildlife friends outdoors.

Decorating an outdoor tree for the birds is a great way to spend an afternoon. We use a cedar tree that happened to plant itself close to our dining room window, but any tree can be used, as long as you and your children can reach its branches. When you put your imagination to work, you can come up with all kinds of decorations made from things birds can eat. Materials can be berries, nuts, seeds, and breads along with natural items found outside like pinecones and sweet gum balls.

Fresh cranberries can be strung on cotton twine to be hung throughout the tree.

Using regular loaf bread, we used cookie cutters to to cut out shapes and a straw to poke a hole so we could use twine for hanging them on the tree. We then toasted the bread slightly to make it stiff before spreading with chunky peanut butter. A sprinkling of seeds makes the 'cookie' appealing to the birds. We looped cotton twine through the hole in the top and hung these from the tree.

Additional decorations were made using pinecones. We applied peanut butter to the pinecones before rolling them in birdseed.

Sliced apples and oranges and pineapple can be hung using twine. 

A walk through the garden gave us more ideas. Nandina berry clusters made beautiful ornaments. Creampuff, one of our red hens, likes those.

Popcorn looks beautiful on the tree, but I'm surprised to find the birds are not eating that. The peanut butter toast was gone the next day, so we had to make more!

This is a Christmas tree that will be enjoyed by all types of wildlife, and watching to see who visits your tree is a great way for your children to learn more about nature.

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