It’s the Winter Holidays, that Magical Season when we celebrate the wonder and beauty of Nature, the balance of life on earth: between plants & animals, people & trees… It is also a time for reflection, as the days grow shorter & cooler and we spend more time looking out the window at the landscape of our gardens. I reflect that we have taken so much from this planet; isn’t Christmastime a perfect time to give back to wildlife?
So then, why is it that people are celebrating this Season of Life by taking life, by chopping down healthy young trees? Why is this a standard tradition? To me, a tree is a powerful living thing. It gives of itself without complaint all year long. A tree gives us shelter from the rain & summer’s hot sun; it gives food & makes a home for wildlife. So in this Magical Season affirming life, I cannot chop down a tree to decorate. When Christmas Tree Stands start to appear, I have to turn away. I cannot celebrate with the shoppers.
Now, I do love a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments collected over the years. I love to stare into the tree lights and remember all of the other Christmases that have gone before. Yes, I want a Christmas tree, too. So, I have my own tradition: I decorate a Living Tree each year, complete with Roots in a Pot! I usually buy a small tree that lasts 2-3 years. I put it out on the patio after the holidays are over. And in the Spring I re-pot it into a larger pot. Next Christmas the little tree comes in for a second Christmas. This is fun because the tree has grown some and the ornaments all fit differently. This also means the cost of the tree is absorbed over two years
Now, my tradition isn’t for everyone. Maybe you don’t have room to plant large trees. Well, in some areas, the National Forest Service welcomes folks to bring their trees out after the holidays to replant in forest areas that have suffered severe burns from wildfires! Families can put a name tag on the tree, and when children come back to the forest, years later, they can see how much their tree has grown! Wonderful.
Another option for folks who want a Living Tree with roots & soil in a pot, but have nowhere to plant it is to rent a tree (click link for tree rental programs across the states)! Yep, here in So Cal there are a number of places gaining popularity for renting live trees at Christmas! They will come and pick up your tree when your holiday celebrations are over. They say, “Why drag a dead tree into the house?” In Los Angeles, the Living Christmas Company will rent you a tree. And when it becomes too large, they donate it to the Urban Reforestation Project.
Another pretty alternative to evergreen trees is Rosemary. A lot of nursery centers are now trimming rosemary into topiary tree shapes for the holidays. Jesse Elwert of BWG mentioned recently that this is her new tradition: a rosemary Christmas tree. After the holidays are over, almost everyone has room for rosemary in their herb or cutting garden.
I have been travelling this Season, so I don’t have room to set up a big tree this Christmas. This makes me sad, missing my big Pine Tree friends planted over the years. But I still got a new Living Tree anyway: a small pine that fits into the car cupholder! And, you know he is the cutest thing. After the holidays, I plan to plant him in a California State Park where he can grow big, live wild & be a home to wildlife. (When I do, I will let you know where he gets to live.)
This Christmas, as you gaze out across the darkened garden landscape under starry skies, whatever your traditions are for celebrating this Magical Season of Life, I hope you will affirm to be a good steward to the gentle creatures of this earth in the new year.
What is your tradition for celebrating this Holiday Season? We’d love to hear~
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