Ole Sorensen and his wife, Dora, know a thing or two about Christmas trees. Sorensen Tree Farm, north of 16th Avenue at the end of 236th Street, is the couple’s second tree farm.
They have a wide range of fir trees because they’ve learned that different types of trees appeal to different people. They also understand how to keep trees healthy throughout the season and are happy to share that wisdom with their customers.
“As long as you put it in water, it’s like any plant, it will last a long, long time,” Sorensen said of U-cut Christmas trees. “But before you put a tree up, cut a very thin slice off [the trunk] and put it in water.”
Sorensen explained that the fresh cut allows the tree to take up water, which prevents the branches and needles from drying out.
The approximately one centimetre cut must be done immediately before the tree goes into the water-filled stand because trees will heal cuts quickly and block water from being taken up, he added.
The British Columbia Christmas Tree Council also offers a few tips: a needle that snaps cleanly when bent is fresh, like a carrot; trees drink a lot of water so in addition to the fresh cut, add a cap full of bleach to about four litres of water in the tree stand.
The bleach prevents micro-organisms from blocking water uptake. It keeps the water coming. Check the tree stand every day and keep it topped up. Avoid putting the tree near heat vents, fireplaces or other heat sources or electronics.
Does this mean that the trees wrapped in twine, leaned up against the fence and sold for weeks at various locations, are okay if you give the trunk a fresh cut? Not really, he said.
“Sometimes those trees have been in cold storage. They might be a month old or more,” Sorensen said. “They have been cut at higher elevations before the snow, so were cut and brought down.”
Choosing a tree from a U-cut or U-dig allows you to see the tree fully before you buy it and can make for a fun outing.
Tromping through a field, yelling “Marco… Polo…”, “Over here! I found the perfect one!” and learning to leave a mitten to claim your chosen tree until you can get everyone to look at it and agree, are fun parts of the adventure.
At Sorensen’s Tree Farm, like most Lower Mainland Christmas tree farms, there are U-cut and U-dig options. Saws are generally provided, but for U-dig, take a shovel along. Chainsaws and axes are not permitted.
Look for a Grand fir for the typical North American scented Christmas tree with slightly down-angled branches and bold green colour. Branches bend a bit, so heavy ornaments will droop, but the scent of a Grand fir is what Christmas is about for many.
The Noble fir is best known for having distinct spacing between branches so allows for long, large ornaments plus the branches are extremely durable and able to take the weight of clay and metal ornaments. The colour is a lighter, silvery green and it holds its needles a long time.
The Douglas fir is also well-loved and is similar to the Grand in its full cone shape and abundance of branches. With the Douglas, needles come out at all angles from the branch, but branches may droop from heavy ornaments. It also has a traditional scent, but loses needles the fastest.
The Nordmann fir has a wide base with sturdy branches and appeals to those who want to display a lot of ornaments on the tree. Like the Noble, it’s not as symmetrical as the Douglas or Grand, but is a rich dark green and has little to no scent.
Get to know the right tree and keep it healthy by chatting to a local Christmas tree expert, like the Sorensens.