In the garden

Selecting a live Christmas tree
One of the favorite family traditions of the holidays is selecting a live Christmas tree and putting it up at home.

“To me, it’s the fragrance,” said Henrico Extension Agent Lisa Sanderson. “When you put a live tree in your home, it just smells like the holidays.”

Live Christmas trees can be purchased from a number of different sources including nurseries and garden centers and by mail-order, but the most popular are retail lots and choose-and-cut farms.

Retail lots, often operated as fund-raisers for charitable groups, offer convenience for time-strapped shoppers. When choosing your tree, check for freshness. Look for a healthy, green appearance and needles that are flexible and don’t come off in your hand when you gently stroke a branch.

The most popular species of Christmas trees in Virginia are the eastern white pine, Fraser fir, Scotch pine, and Norway spruce. A study conducted at Cornell University rated the Fraser fir as the best of these four species for needle retention and fragrance and equal to or better than the others for “resistance to ignition.”

“When you get your tree home, you need to cut an inch off the bottom,” said Sanderson. “Cutting the bottom helps ensure your tree will take in the water it needs to stay fresh in your home.”

Your Christmas tree can absorb as much as a gallon of water the first day you have it up, so placing it in an adequately-sized stand with a sufficient reservoir for water is important. You’ll also need to keep it away from heaters and fireplaces.

“If the tree dries out, you need to take it down and cut the bottom off again,” said Sanderson. “It may be a little inconvenient, but you have to check the water every day, maybe even twice a day.”

Sanderson says a good rule of thumb is to treat a green Christmas tree like a fresh bouquet of cut flowers.

Living, balled-and-burlapped Christmas trees are another popular choice especially since the late-December or early-January climate in Virginia is often conducive to planting. These trees need to be conditioned in an unheated garage or shed for a couple of days before being brought into a heated home. They also need water, but not as much as cut trees, and they shouldn’t be kept inside more than ten days.

A choose-and-cut farm can provide a fun outdoor recreational experience for your family as well as a beautiful Christmas tree. Some farmers provide hand saws for you to cut your tree while others will cut the tree for you. To find a choose-and-cut farm, go to http://www.virginiagrown.com.

“I’ve gone with my family to cut a Christmas tree,” said Sanderson. “I have to tell you, it was wonderful!”
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Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

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Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
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Weekend Top 10


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The Hanover Concert Band will perform from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at Virginia Center Commons Mall. The Central Virginia Wind Symphony will then perform from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Both concerts will take place in the Food Court. Full text

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