My colleague, Cassandra Profita, at Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Ecotrope blog has some interesting twists to offer on the real-or-fake Christmas tree question. Her 10 shades of green focuses almost entirely on real trees, since fake trees have to be used for 10 to 20 years before their carbon footprint matches up. But Cassandra stresses that having a real tree for Christmas doesn’t have to mean cutting one down and killing it
- Put it in a pot: Any small tree or shrub that you normally bring inside for winter could stand in for the traditional fir or spruce. My mom had a beloved Norfolk Island pine that she decorated for years. But I love Cassandra’s idea of using a big rosemary plant. I have friends who grow rosemary two or three feet tall around here (unfortunately, rosemary is not one of my gardening strengths), but any garden center worth its salt could provide you with a smaller version. Just imagine what the house would smell like!
- Replant it: Instead of cutting a tree down, try pulling it out by the roots … then putting it back in the ground when you’re done with it. Cape Cod Tree Farm offers six varieties of live, replantable trees for Christmas. I just wonder how many times a tree can withstand that kind of treatment (i.e. could you pull it up again next year? and the year after?). I’ve got a good-sized yard, but it would fill up pretty quickly if I planted a Christmas tree every year.
- Kill two birds: Well, not literally. But this was my favorite idea: pick an invasive species or two for your holiday decor. Cut it down, pull it out, whatever you’ve got to do. Then gussy it up for a week or two of holiday cheer before you send it to the compost pile. It’s a win-win proposition. Not sure what to go after? Here’s USDA’s top ten of non-native plants in Massachusetts. And if you’re short on ideas for how to use what you’ve found, you have to check out Cassandra’s story about a Portland (that’s Oregon, not Maine) man who’s been making Christmas trees out of invasive species for twelve years.