For Wisconsin Christmas tree growers, Christmastime comes year-round. Wisconsin Christmas tree growers spend an entire year preparing the perfect tree for you and your family. Care is given to the tree at planting, around weeding, and during pruning and shearing. I joined in on several demonstrations held at the Midwest Christmas Tree Growers Association annual convention to learn more.
This year’s host was the Feltham family at Country Side Trees, located in Walworth. Glen, Becky, Ruth, and Holly graciously opened up their doors to fellow tree growers from across the Midwest. The demonstrations started out at their home farm, where Ruth demonstrated how they hand create over 1,000 wreaths each season. Ruth’s award-winning wreaths start with greenery grown on their farm. Most of the greenery comes from Fraser fir and Balsam fir trees, though many others are used for contrast. Here’s the process Ruth shared for making the perfect wreath:
Cut the greenery fresh each morning for the day’s wreaths.
Measure your first bough to the appropriate length for your form. (14” is the perfect length for a medium-sized form)
Lay the first bough upside-down in your hand, and add more boughs until you have an ‘okay-amount’. This was Ruth’s clever way to describe the amount of boughs she could hold in her hand while making the ‘okay’ sign.
Be sure to line the tops of the boughs up. Then trim any excess length from the boughs to match the first measured bough.
Place the group into the form, and close the metal clasps. Country Side Trees has a machine to help with this, though a hammer would work well too!
Continue making groups of boughs, and adding them to the next consecutive clasp. Be sure to add the boughs at a slight outward-facing angle so the wreath looks big and full when complete.
Add a homemade bow to complete the look!
Store in a dark, cool place until you are ready to hang up.
Ruth and her team will begin making wreaths for this holiday season around October 20 to prepare for the Thanksgiving rush.
Next up, we headed up to the retail farm and store, where Glen talked about their tree business. Their family grows 75 acres, comprised of a variety of trees such as Blue Spruce, White Pine, Concolor (White) Fir and many more. The trees are planted eight feet apart from one another, to allow for easy maintenance and easy walking in the middle of the winter.
This time of year, many tree growers just finished up shearing their trees. The shearing demonstrator shared that trees should be sheared no later than August 1. His goal when shearing the trees is to create a straight line for every angle of the tree. When shearing, he made nice long strokes around the tree to create these lines. Different types of trees are sheared slightly different, though the general process and timeline is still the same.
Though many of us may not be thinking about Christmas in August, our Wisconsin Christmas tree growers are hard at work perfecting our trees. It truly takes year-round work to prepare beautiful trees, wreaths, and garland for our living rooms.