In Loudoun County, Virginia, “Black Friday” is followed by “Green Saturday” as hundreds of area residents drive to Loudoun farms for Christmas trees. This year the holiday tree-buying season will be kicked off by a delegation from the Russian Embassy, which will visit the Middleburg Christmas Tree Farm the day before Thanksgiving.
“They’re a discerning client,” says owner Frans Kok. “They will spend hours weighing different trees and picking what they consider the best tree.”
The embassy was referred to Kok’s farm because he has up to 100 trees 20 or more feet tall. The Russian Embassy, with one of the largest ballrooms in the Washington, DC area, will probably cut down a tree in the 25-foot range. Trees that large can weigh hundreds of pounds, and the Russian Embassy is sending a team of 15 men to load the tree onto their truck.
“I’ve steered them toward a Douglas Fir because of needle retention,” Kok says. Having a tree that doesn’t drop its needles for several weeks is important for the embassy, since the Russian Orthodox Christmas is observed on January 7 instead of December 25.
Needle retention is one of many variables families consider when buying Christmas trees. Blue Spruce trees are among the best for keeping their needles throughout the season. Norway Spruces generally have shorter needles than the Douglas Fir or the Blue Spruce, but the Norways are sought-after for their strong fragrance.
Loudoun has 15 Christmas tree farms and about 200,000 trees for sale. From 25-30 percent of tree sales will take place the weekend after Thanksgiving, with the majority of sales – about 45 percent – happening the first weekend of December. The remaining 30 percent of Christmas tree sales occur the second weekend of December.
The “2013 Guide to Trees, Greens and Holiday Floral Products” lists Loudoun tree farms, and includes a map, tree care, recycling tips, and information about area holiday events. Guides are available in libraries, community centers and at Visit Loudoun, and can be downloaded at www.loudounfarms.org/christmastrees.