As we move closer to our Open House – on December 7th – we have begun preparing for the centerpiece of our festivities: the ThorpeWood Christmas tree! Anyone who has been to our Open Houses remembers the trees of years past. We always have an impressively large, beautiful Christmas tree right as you walk into the Lodge. It really sets the mood for the entire celebration! While we haven’t cut down this year’s tree yet – of course! – we have begun the process of preparing for cutting down the tree, and thought that we would share some tips for tree selection with you.
Now, don’t get us wrong – we are not trying to forget about Thanksgiving by already talking about Christmas, but the Open House is coming up soon, and there are so many wonderful preparations that we make in advance of that festive day. Giving you a “behind the scenes” glimpse into this most wonderful event is exciting for us. And we hope it will encourage you to make sure to mark the date on your calendar and plan on attending!
Going back to the first Christmas at ThorpeWood, 14 years ago, we hunted for the “perfect” tree at a tree farm in New Market that had for many years previously stopped selling trees to the public. As a result their trees had grown very large, too large for most consumers but not for ThorpeWood and its tall ceiling. So off we trudged and when we found the mammoth evergreen, we cut and dragged it. This was no easy task as the terrain was hilly and the distance to our trailer great. We tied a rope to the butt end of the tree and every man and woman on staff and some volunteers heaved and hoed all the way out to the road. We did this for several years, sometimes in the snow until one year the trees were simply too large for ThorpeWood’s inside space. Oh, and these trees only cost us $25. It was sad to have to give up on this tradition.
So our next tree fetching experiences were much more tame. We began buying our trees from Sewell’s Tree Farm in Taneytown. What a great farm, wonderful family, and gorgeous trees! Our 17′ tall trees were too tall to come off the Taneytown farm but rather came from Sewell land in north central Pennsylvania. They would cut the ThorpeWood tree in the mountains of Pennsylvania along with a few other tall tree customers, haul the lot back to Taneytown and then give us an opportunity to pick ours. The Sewells have taken such good care of us for these last eight years. Thank you Lori and Ronnie, two of the hardest working folks I know.
This year we are exploring tree farms that will allow us to cut our own. We have missed the experience of selecting our tree while it is still standing. We will let you know more as we experience it ourselves.
When we are scouting for the perfect tree, we follow the same sort of steps that you do. We make sure to have a good measurement of the space that we will be filling with the tree. We all know that it can be hard to gauge the size of a Christmas tree in a big, open field. Every tree looks like it would fit, right? By taking measurements before hand, and sticking with them during the selection process, it makes everything go much more smoothly.
Of course, we have a pretty large space to fill in the Lodge! So, we are not as much hampered by dimension as someone might be who is placing the tree in their living room – but even we have limitations!
When you think you have found the perfect tree, make sure to check it from all angles. Make sure there are not any glaring bare spots. Will there be bare spots? Of course! And we think some bare spots give a tree character, and invite creativity in ornament placement! But, make sure to pick one that looks great from all sides.
When the time comes to cut the tree down, make sure to make a cut as close to the ground as you can. This will give you plenty of wiggle room should adjustments in height need to be made. Plus, it ensures that you have enough trunk to allow perfect placement in your tree stand.
Make sure to wrap the tree securely for transport. In this picture from last year’s tree gathering, you can see that we are hard at work protecting those branches for their trip to the Lodge.
Once you get the tree home, make sure to secure it in your tree stand and give it plenty of fresh water. Just before putting the tree in its stand, we make the final cut on the base so that any dry or hardened sap is cut away and then we immerse the tree in very hot water with a small amount of bleach in it. The hot water insures that sap is heated and thinned to permit good water flow to the upper portions of the tree. Trees need to have a constant supply of water to be at their freshest during the season.
At ThorpeWood, the tree arriving at the Lodge is just the first part of quite an impressive operation! It takes a lot to get a tree of that size upright and ready for decorating. The process was captured in photographs last holiday season, and we thought it would fun to share them with you here on the blog. A little timeline of a tree raising!
Here is the tree upon arrival at the Lodge. Notice that the outstanding wrapping job helped to keep those branches in great shape:
Now comes the fun part! We have to use a pulley system to get the tree upright and in place. Yes! A pulley! Look at these:
Here, Sam is on top of a ladder securing the pulley system.
Up goes the tree!
And, it’s up!
After the getting of the tree, comes the best part: the decorating. At ThorpeWood the decorating is as huge of an effort as the finding of the tree! Stay tuned for a fun post on the logistics of decorating a tree that size!