It may not be a huge part of their holiday business but Jason Scire, nursery manager for , said 'B&B trees' bring the same families back season after season. B&B trees, he quickly added, are live balled and burlap trees that a small group of Christmas tree buyers favor over the more popular pre-cut or cut-your own trees.
One such customer is Susan Barnes, a Branford resident who has been purchasing B&B trees from Van Wilgen’s since her move back to Connecticut in 1998–prior to that, Barnes bought B&B trees for years in Maryland where she lived.
Every Christmas, Barnes has purchased one of three varieties of cold-hearty, live balled and burlap trees from Van Wilgen’s and then, after enjoying the tree for the holiday, planted it on her 40-acre parcel of land. The Norway Spruce tend to do the best on her land, she said, noting that the Blue Spruce failed miserably; this year she’s trying the Frasier Fur instead.
“To me…you pay a few dollars more for a tree, but you might have a tree forever,” she commented.
At Van Wilgen’s Scire explained, “It’s a small part of our business but there are customers who really like the idea of not cutting down a tree.”
This year, especially, the sale of B&B trees was unprecedented for Van Wilgen’s, he said because people were replacing trees lost in and the rare that swept through the state. The unseasonably warm weather had people buying up the order of B&B trees for Christmas in early November, said Scire. All told, they sold 50 B&B trees this season, about 20 more than usual.
B&B trees are not for everyone, explained Scire. They can be labor intensive and weigh up to 100 pounds – they also cost $64.99 to $119.99. Live trees can only be brought indoors for about five to six days and must be planted soon after; owners can only enjoy the decorated tree inside just before the holiday. Placing the tree next to the fireplace in the comfort if your home, said, Scire, can be tough on the arbor.
“It’s a lot to ask to ask the tree to deal with all that,” he said.
While the ground is still warm and lose, a hole needs to be dug for the live tree said Scire, one other part of the labor involved in opting for a B&B tree over a cut one.
“I think people are being good stewards of the environment,” he said. “On the other side of the coin,” he said of the cut trees, “[they] are grown for a reason–this is a business.”
If you do decide to give live trees a try and the planting fails, Scire said Van Wilgen’s will work with you the following year on purchasing another one. “We want everyone to walk away feeling successful.”
Whether you chose a cut tree or decide a B&B might be the way to go next year, Barnes is content with her tradition.
“We like growing things here,” she said, “not cutting them down.”
If you do have a cut tree, the Town of North Branford will be with regular trash pickup from Jan. 2 to 13.