We hope you all fully enjoyed your Twelve Days of Christmas, as did we. Last Saturday was Epiphany, which we decided would be a good day to assess how our greens are holding up (it was certainly too cold to play outside). It's a Goslin family tradition that we put up our trees and decorate our houses on Christmas Eve. Yes, that's because we wait to see what's left unsold in the shop and on the lot. But what started off as a frugal and practical decision has since morphed into a fun tradition for us. Long story short: it's amazing how long and how well cut greens will last.
Our exterior wreaths, garlands and swags look perfect (-18 degree temperatures will help, of course!). But how have our interior decorations held up? We violated many of the "rules" that we usually impart to our customers: we placed our greens right next to heating vents, neglected to water them, and placed hot incandescent bulbs on our garland. Yeah, we don't like to fuss much. And yet, everything still looks picture perfect and smells great.
We are most commonly asked about needle retention, so here is what we found. Needles did drop -- especially balsam -- in the initial setup, but after that there was hardly ANY loss observed. The one exception was our garland, which we placed on our staircase and was therefore subject to "little hands" and frequent brushes as we went up and down the stairs. Our conclusion: all of the varieties used in our greens (balsam, white pine, cedar, concolor and fraser fir) have excellent needle retention, especially if they aren't handled frequently.
Below are pictures from Epiphany day. Does the Christmas tree look familiar? That's the tree from our shop, once twenty feet tall and holding all of our bows, but now cut to fit our living room. Amazingly, it was cut around Halloween and yet continues to hold our ornaments into the second week of January.
After 30+ years in this business you'd think we'd be able to phone it in by now. But every November we experience the same old anxieties as we near the holiday season: "Will we be able to deliver all our commercial orders on time?" (None missed.) "Will the weather cooperate to keep our greens at just the right temperature?" (It's Michigan, what can you expect?) "Should we have done any advertising this year?" (One of these days...) "Should we have put together a Facebook page?" (We hate Facebook, whatever it is.) "Should we at least have a better sign? And of course, do people even know what a 'Greenery' is?" (At this point, I think we're just stuck with that name.)
So it's with relief and amazement when, somehow, over a thousand visitors find their way to our little corner of Emmet County. Many are now old friends, who know just where their tree is stashed, and whose ribbon preferences we know intimately. Still others are new-timers, who are brought to us either by curiosity ("what's a 'Greenery'?"), serendipity or persistence (Google Maps can be tricky). We get locals from around the corner, and visitors from around the country (again, Google Maps can be tricky).
The Goslin's Greenery team enjoys seeing who comes down our drive, chatting them up, and taking the pulse of our community. We always strive to be honest and polite, though when push comes to shove we'll always prioritize honesty over false politeness. If we occasionally come across as prickly -- well, that just comes from spending a lot of time handling blue spruce (that's the prickly tree, for all you fir-heads out there). It goes without saying that we're passionate about what we do, and that we love being part of this community. After all, there are easier ways to make a buck. But once you've got pine resin on your hands, it's tough to get off.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you from the team here at GG! Let's hope that 2018 is even better and brighter.
While this year's Christmas tree news has focused on shortages, and delivery problems, a less reported, but perhaps more distressing report, is this one from the Guardian. Wage theft, chemical exposure, unsafe working conditions. How many customers at [big box store] realize that their tree was trimmed, cut, bailed and loaded by exploited immigrants, who were treated by their employers as disposable labor? What could be more contrary to the Christmas spirit than to treat our fellow man this way?
If you have already cut your tree from our lot this year, you know just how much work goes into hauling a 50 pound tree to your car. And you can rest assured that your tree is not a product of exploited workers. Of course a lot of work goes into preparing the trees for you, our visitors to cut; it takes roughly a 10 year period, from planting to trimming, to make those trees ready. And here is the Goslin's difference: all of our live trees have been personally planted and tended by our owner or co-workers who have been treated fairly. What is "fair"? Well, for the last 4 years, all of our part-time employees have been paid $15 per hour. The same goes for the makers of our wreaths and garlands.
As we see it, the you-cut model for Christmas trees provides the best of all worlds: you know where much of the labor comes from, because you supplied it. And as a result, you get to benefit from a price point ($25) that would make a downstater's head spin. Oh yeah, and the fresh air and cardio work out is just icing on the cake.
A few weekends ago, we met a nice young family who came with a most unusual request: after walking back and cutting a Christmas tree, would it be possible for them to plant a new tree on our farm? We politely demurred -- it's the wrong season for planting -- but we did show them our rows of potted trees, which customers may purchase for $25 and plant on their own property (in the spring).
Nevertheless, at our company staff meeting we continued to think about their request, and the possible reasons motivating it. This particular family didn't explain why they wanted to plant the tree. We hope they weren't concerned about the health of our business (it's doing fine!). But they are not alone: more and more every year we have had families visit our farm to find a live tree to take back home. No doubt many people are concerned about the environmental consequences of cutting down a tree. Are you one of them? Rest assured that we continue to plant replacements, and we have planted many other trees that have grown big enough to offset the smaller ones that are cut down.
This year why not start a new family tradition? Cut a tree, plant a tree. Purchasing a living tree, in addition to your cut Christmas tree, is a great way to provide continuity between the seasons. Potted trees enhance an outside living space, such as a deck, and are easy to move around. Once planted in the ground trees can grow quickly, and are an ideal means of controlling erosion, drifting snow, or encroaching neighbors (a friendlier alternative to a fence). If placed correctly they may also help you moderate the temperature of your home, by blocking the wind and direct sunlight. As the trees grow big, they serve as reminders of Christmases past: of family members who have grown up to start their own families, or who have passed away in the intervening years.
Although our regular business hours end on Christmas Eve, we do sell potted and bagged pine trees throughout the year (after the snow melts). If you are interested in purchasing a live tree, you can reach us at 231-203-1127 to learn more about the varieties we may have available.