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!”
The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.
The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)
The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.
For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.
The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.
The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.
Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.
‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise
Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.
They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.
As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.
Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.
There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Is it heresy to say – in this bastion-of-tradition capital of the Old South – that it's time for Southern fried chicken to take a step back and make way for a new fried chicken king?
Count me among the new believers bowing to Bonchon Chicken's delectable double-fried bliss. Hand-brushed with signature garlic soy or hot sauce, flash-fried once and then again, the decadent drums and wings take "crisp" to a new level. If you're eating with a crowd and everyone bites in at once, be warned: you might need ear plugs to handle the din. > Read more.
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