When it’s time to decorate for the holidays some families choose to use a real tree instead of an artificial arbor. Whether your experience is a Norman Rockwell painting or a scene from Christmas Vacation, you’ll understand the act of going out with the family to select – and even cut down – your own tree can be a memorable way to jumpstart your holiday celebration.
Oh Christmas Tree
The most commonly grown trees in Ontario are pine, fir and spruce, with various varieties of each in between. Choose to buy a pre-cut tree from markets such as Carmichael Garden Centre and Bradford Greenhouses. You can harvest your own from places like Niemi Family Farm in Mount Albert, Bose Tree Farm East of Aurora, or Horton’s Tree Farm with three sites all just East of Aurora & Newmarket. At most locations you’ll find varieties that include Fraser, Balsam, Canaan Fir, Scotch, White and Austrian Pine, green and blue Spruce, white Norway Spruce and Colorado Spruce.
Make a Day of It
What makes going out to get a natural tree fun is the experiences and activities that can surround it. Hopping in the car with friends and family turns going out merely just to buy a tree into a half or all-day excursion. Horton’s, one of Ontario’s first ‘cut your own’ operations, opens for holiday business in late November with activities that go beyond finding that perfect pine. Between their 3 sites you can choose to enjoy the peaceful ambience of a century ago, or opt for family fun with a winter carnival atmosphere. Wagon rides, hot chocolate, bonfires and tobogganing are all on the agenda. Check their site for activities, dates and times.
Over in Mount Albert, Niemi Family Farm begins the Season’s fun near the last Saturday of November (weather depending). After you’ve cut your tree, go for a tractor ride, roast some marshmallows on the bonfire and then pick up some farm-made Santas, elves and stars for decorating!
If you plan to harvest your own tree, it must be done during daylight hours. If you want to buy a pre-cut tree, shopping for one later in the day can be even more magical with the lights and displays lighting up the evening.
Did you know that Christmas trees have their own government bill? Bill 185 states that the first Sunday of December has been declared National Christmas Tree Day. Of course, you can go select your tree whenever you choose and when you do, spending the day outdoors finding the perfect tree will make lasting memories for everyone.
Tips for Tree Trekking
Tools & equipment: Saws are usually provided. Some places wrap (or bale) and tie the tree on your car. Bring your own bungee cords and rope just in case. Call ahead to find out.
Shaking: Trees receive a good shake in the mechanical; although the tree was home to a few creatures outside, you don’t want to bring them home for the holidays.
Farm fun: Both Clembrook and Wills have wagon rides, refreshments, gift shop, greenery and even visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
What to pack: Bring snacks and water if you choose, or enjoy the farm’s café.
What to wear: Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty; boots, heavy gloves for handling the tree; dress in layers and prepare for chilly weather with hats and mittens.
Photo opps: Bring the camera to capture the day.
Horton Tree Farms, Gormley, Stouffeville & East of Aurora
Niemi Family Farm, Mount Albert
Bose Tree Farm, East of Aurora at Warden & St. John’s Sideroad
Carmichael Garden Centre, Newmarket
Bradford Greenhouses, Bradford