by Art Petrosemolo
IF YOU LIVE in New Jersey, you can cut your own tree, buy a fresh tree from a garden center, gas station, a stand along the highway, or have one sent to you on-line. And if don’t want the fuss, you can get an artificial tree (they look more real every year) from a variety of local and national retailers or online from dozens of suppliers.
Haven’t gotten a tree yet? It’s getting close to the big holiday, what are you waiting for?
If you want a fresh tree, you have lots of choices and have some decisions to make. What type of tree, the size (will it fit in the living room) and how much you want to pay to name a few.
The most popular tree in New Jersey is the Frasier Fir. It holds its needles the longest and has a dark blue-green color that is popular, according to Frank Luccarelli, owner of Dearborn Market, Holmdel. “Most of the Fraziers come from North Carolina,” Luccarelli says, “and we have been selling them at Dearborn for years. They are very popular.”
Other tree options are the Douglas Fir which has a lighter green color and many people choose because of its pleasant scent, or the Balsam Fir which was the most available tree for years. Most of the Douglas Fir trees are imported from Pennsylvania, Balsams Firs are from the northern areas of New England and Canada. White Pine. White Fir, Virginal Pine, and Blue Spruce trees also are sold for Christmas trees and are available from some retailers.
Trees reach the retail market either directly from a local tree farm or are imported from an out-of-state tree supplier or through a local wholesaler. Tommy Gialanella of Gialanella Evergreens, Lincoft, is a well-known and respected middle man, wholesaler, as well as a retailer for trees and evergreens. He has been in business for decades and started selling trees at the Acme in Lincroft 45 years ago. A number of tree retailers, including top garden centers, purchase trees for re-sale from Tommy.
“Fresh cut trees today are truly ‘fresh cut,’” Tommy says. “Years ago, trees might be cut more than a month before the holidays and sit. Not today,” he continues, “trees can be cut and shipped from suppliers from Nova Scotia to North Carolina within days of being sold.”
Gialanella has even imported trees from the west coast, like the Noble Fir, which are not native to the eastern U.S.
A popular spot to buy a tree in the two river area is the Little Silver Volunteer Fire Company on Prospect Street in Little Silver. About 1,000 trees are sold each year by the firemen from Thanksgiving to Christmas with the busiest time two weeks before December 25. The volunteers dig post holes in the fall to display the open trees which arrive in two deliveries in late November.
If you want the ultimate fresh tree, you may have to cut it yourself so head to one of the cut-your-own tree farms in Monmouth County including Anne Ellen, Manalapan, A. Casola Farms, Holmdel/Springfield, English Tree Farm in Howell or Lincroft Tree Farm in Lincroft. These are just a few of the spots that come up on a web search for locally grown trees.
According to Tony Casola, Casola Farms, “Cutting your own tree is a family experience and brings back some of the Christmas traditions of the past.” Casola’s Christmas tree farm (163 Georgetown-Wrightstown Road-Rt 545, Springfield, NJ), is a little ride but Tony says it’s worth it. “We take you to the field on a hayride . You can pick out your tree and cut it with your own saw (no chain saws please) or we’ll cut it for you. Then we bale the tree and load it on your car. It’s just like the ‘old days.’ ” At Casola’s Christmas tree farm, you can cut any tree from six to 13-feet for $45. Each cut-your-own farm and retail tree seller has different pricing and it is usually based on the height of the tree, Tony explains. “We are just trying to make it easy for the customer.”
The Casola name has been in Monmouth County for 80 years. Tony’s business is 30 years old and they have owned the tree farm for three years.
The price of fresh cut Christmas tree vary too. Frank Luccarelli sums it up: “You get what you pay for.” At garden centers and some other established locations, the trees are open for inspection and trimmed for you if you wish. They then are baled and placed on your car to bring home. “At Dearborn Market, we provide a tree bag that goes at the bottom of the tree,” Luccarelli explains, “and it allows you to pull it up over the tree for easy removal and recycling at the end of the season.”
Most fresh cut trees under eight feet start at about $25 – $30 and the prices, as expected, go up, with the height and quality.
In 2011, you don’t even have to go out and buy a tree, it will be sent to you. www.christmastreecompany.com and www.freshcutchristmastree.com are two online companies who will sell you a live tree, box it and ship it directly to your home. The same goes for artificial trees which are available in-store or on-line from national retailers like Sears, WalMart and Target.
If you opt for a live tree, there are things you need to remember when you get your purchase home. You want to be sure it stays beautiful and safe for the holiday season.
Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Company Chief Jerzy Chojnacki says common sense is what is important. “Don’t overload your electrical circuits or loop light strings is the first thing,” he says. “Be sure to keep the tree in a basin of fresh water and keep it topped, “he continues, “don’t put the tree near any open flame like candles or a fireplace and be sure you do not cover vents, smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.”
And finally, Chief Chojnacki reminds you if your tree is in a hallway or near an exit, not to block the passageway with gifts or boxes. “It’s all common sense,” he says, but, “during the holidays, sometimes people forget.”
So if you haven’t given much thought to the traditional evergreen to help you and your family celebrate the holiday season, start thinking…time’s a wasting.