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Christmas Trees - Facts, Traditions and Symbols

Ole' Christmas Tree, Ole' Christmas Tree

I can remember when I was a kid. It was time to cut a Christmas tree for Grandma's house. There were very few pines or firs of the right size and shape so that we would go out into the fields, and the tree we always came back with was an eastern red cedar of just the right height and symmetry to look good across the room from the old wood stove. The area's people valued the eastern red cedar as a decoration and as fence posts and beams to support the floors and roofs of sheds and barns. The fragrant needles were sometimes brought in and just placed around as a sort of natural air freshener. The chickens use the giant cedar on the property to sleep, which means that underneath the cedar was the cedar's best place to get worms for fishing. Moss also looks great underneath a tree.

Christmas Tree

Red Cedar

Back in those days, we never knew that the eastern red cedar was not a cedar but a juniper species. The plant is a native of eastern North America with a very dense and slow-growing tree that may reach heights of 15-70 feet in optimum soil conditions. The eastern red cedar, though slow-growing, makes an excellent windbreak when planted along the edges of fields or property lines. The dense foliage makes it the perfect place for numerous species of birds to nest with excellent protection from weather and predators. The birds also feast on the tiny berries produced by this member of the juniper family.

The eastern red cedar is an excellent plant to be placed by the discerning gardener or landscaper, as it is nearly unsurpassed as a windbreak of hedgerow tree. As a native species, the planter will enjoy its tree year after year without ever worrying about its seeds being scattered and becoming an invasive species. The eastern red cedar truly is a tree for all purposes and seasons. Trumpet vines are great to use for wreaths also.

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