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It’s time again for the 4-H wreath sale

By Amy-Lynn Albertson

Cooperative Extension Director

North Carolina is second in the nation for Christmas tree production. The majority of trees grown for live Christmas trees and wreaths are Fraser firs.

The Fraser fir was named for John Fraser (1750-1811), a Scottish botanist who explored the southern Appalachian mountains in the late 18th century. The species is sometimes called Southern balsam or Southern balsam fir. Locally, Fraser fir is known as “She balsam” because of the resin-filled blisters on the tree’s trunk. Red spruce, often associated with Fraser fir, is called “He balsam” and lacks the distinctive blisters.

It has branches that turn slightly upward and have good form and needle retention. They are dark blue-green in color. They have a pleasant scent and excellent shipping characteristics, as well. The Fraser grows best in the mountains of North Carolina, where the temperature is cooler and the soil less clayey.

Sadly, for our area, the Fraser fir does not like heavy, red clay soils. However, you can usually find a spot with good drainage where a tree will live for some time. Just don’t plan on starting a pick-your-own Christmas tree farm with Fraser firs in Rowan County. If you want to plant Christmas trees, the Eastern white pine or Leyland cypress are better choices for our area.

In my opinion, there is nothing that puts me more into the mood for Christmas than putting up a live tree. Even better than the tree is a live wreath or garland. The wreath has been a part of winter celebrations for many years.

Early Romans gave gifts of green branches at New Year’s, to wish health and vigor to family and friends. Eventually, the branches were shaped into wreaths, symbols of joy and victory. The evergreen wreath later became a Christian symbol.

The wreath was a Christmas tree ornament because they were circular and easy to hang on the branches of a tree. The shape symbolizes eternity as it has no end. Together, the circular shape and the evergreen material make the wreath a representation of eternal life.

A German Lutheran pastor named Johann Hinrich Wichern is given credit for making the wreath a symbol of Advent and lighting candles of different sizes and colors in a circle. Wreaths hung on the door or window are viewed as an invitation for the spirit of Christmas to enter the home and bring good luck.

No matter what your holiday traditions are, a wreath is a great way to share your creativity and support for N.C. agriculture this winter. The Rowan County 4-H program’s annual Wreath Sale is going on now. We have Fraser fir, boxwood, and mixed white pine wreaths, as well as white pine garland.

The wreaths are made by a small family farm in Alleghany County. The deadline for ordering your wreath is Thursday, Nov. 21. The pickup day for wreaths is Dec. 5. There will also be waterproof red velvet bows for sale at wreath pick up. This is a great way to kick off the holiday season, support 4-H and N.C. Agriculture. Call 704-216-8970 to order your wreath today.

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