The year of the perfect Christmas tree

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 4, 2015

By Rebecca Rider

Nothing brings out the Christmas spirit quite like a fir tree. Whether it’s bought at a store or cut from a lot, each tree is chosen with care.

Children race down the aisles of branches with excitement, eager to pick out the perfect Christmas tree. And while parents may have an eye on price and size, they’re looking for the perfect tree, too.

Corey Stiller, the nursery manager at Godley’s Garden Center on Statesville Boulevard, says that people look for symmetry and full branches when picking out a tree. They want a good shape that will fill the space, but isn’t too tall.

This year, he says, sales have been good at Godley’s. Their Christmas tree lot has only been up for two weeks, but they’ve already had to make three trips up to West Jefferson in Ashe County for more trees.

Charlie Smith at Rufty’s Garden Shop on West Innes agrees that sales have been brisk. They’ve sold out of wreaths, and the trees are going fast.

“We’ve had an excellent year already on trees,” he said.

Lately, Thanksgiving weekend has been a popular time for tree-buying. Parents with kids in college want to buy a tree and decorate it while the whole family is together.

While artificial trees were all the rage a few years ago, Smith says that lately, the pendulum is swinging back towards a live tree. People can’t resist the clean, piney scent and the beautiful, full branches.

And in North Carolina, a Fraser Fir is the way to go.

“It’s the most popular kind there is,” Smith said.

Faser firs will only grow at elevations that exceed 3,000 feet above sea level, which makes the mountains of North Carolina a great place for tree farmers. Fraser firs grown in N.C. are shipped all over the country, Smith said.

And tree quality is high this year.

“Everything’s a number one,” Smith said.

Some people, however, may prefer pine or spruce to fir. If that’s the case, they can swing by Pinetop farm on Majolicka Road. Pinetop is a cut-your-own tree farm that sells pine and spruce trees.

River Ridge, located in front of the J.F. Hurley YMCA, sells white pine and fir hybrids in addition to the classic fraser.

A tree can make or break Christmas, so sellers work hard to make sure that people are happy with their tree.

Smith has been working at Rufty’s since 1980, and says that if he knows what a customer wants in a tree, he’ll hand-pick it for them and hold it till they come to pick it up. Godley’s will trim a tree down, make sure the base cut is flat and deliver.

For Michael Blowers at River Ridge, it’s all about the people. Blowers is from West Jefferson, but comes to Salisbury to sell trees every December.

“This is one of the things I look forward to,” he said.

He loves meeting the people and families, and learning their stories. And while he doesn’t own the trees, he has permission to donate a few.

“You gotta believe in people,” he said.

He says he picks one local charity every year to give a tree to. The leftovers he donates to local Boy Scout troops for crappie habitats or to local hunters for duck blinds. For Blowers, that makes the season.

“It really is just about giving, not receiving,” Blowers said.

If you haven’t purchased a Christmas tree yet, here are some options:


River Ridge in front of J.F. Hurley YMCA on Jake Alexander

Tree prices: $20 to $120


Rufty’s Garden Shop, 1335 W Innes St.

Tree prices: $20 to $100


Icicle Mountain, next to the Shell gas station on Jake Alexander Boulevard West

Tree prices: $25 to $100


Variety Produce 415 W Main St., Rockwell

Tree prices: $30-$35


Father and Son Produce Market, 1774 Sherrills Ford Road

Tree prices: $15-$100


Godley’s Garden Center and Nursery, 2281 Statesville Blvd.

Tree prices: $30-$195


Pinetop Tree Farm, 830 Majolica Road

Open Saturday Dec. 5 from 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m. only.


Christmas trees can also be purchased at Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart and Food Lion locations around Rowan County.