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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Sticky Pants

IT SEEMS TO ME like we just went through all four seasons last week. On Monday we were avoiding heat exhaustion. We drink too much water while digging holes for plants with a pick ax and a sharp shooter shovel. The ground is like concrete since we are twelve inches of rainfall behind normal. On Tuesday we saw some leaves turning fall colors, not sure if they were plants that were dying or doing the regular fall show. Halloween and jack o lanterns were behind us. On Wednesday we unloaded Christmas trees in a cold rain. Not kidding, all that happened in one week! Our weather is one of my favorite things about living in Mississippi, predictably unpredictable, keeps me on my toes.

The Christmas trees have arrived once again. For a while most of the nursery guys will wear pants they dont mind getting stained and sticky from the trees sap. Getting them down from the refrigerated trucks is the slickest, sappiest part. Each tree is bound tightly and still wet and green, I think they’ve only been cut for a couple of days at the most so they are good and heavy. I should say we hope they are good and heavy, otherwise they are light which means they don’t have much water left in them, they won’t last very long, they are duds. Just about all of the trees require two men on each tree. We will have four guys in the truck pulling them from the stacks to the end of the truck. On the ground there is line of guys pulling the trees , checking the color of the ribbon indicating the size of the tree and putting the tree in the appropriate size pile. On Christmas tree day the landscape crew either meets us for the unloading early in the morning or the stop whatever job they are on to come back to help with the unload if the truck arrives later in the day. The entire crew from Garden Works retail and Garden Works green house grow team are present for the process. It’s a fun couple of days for us all to convene on a huge project all together at one time, we don’t get to do that very often. All of the different departments are on different schedules with different goals so we all cross friendly paths with each other but not he same as getting to corroborate on a project.

Once the trees are lined out like soldiers we start carrying the in the Christmas tree sales area where we stand the up in rows to create a winter wonderland feel, it helps when it doesn’t get to ninety degrees when you are trying to get that effect. This year we covered the ground with fresh limestone so it is white like snow so the conifers look even better. We pound tee posts into the ground so we will have something to tie the trees up so they can be inspected full circle. Typically the early christmas tree shoppers begin milling about for the firstest and the bestest while all this is going on, in fact there is a little unwritten competition going on started by a buddy of mine. For years he gets the ETA of the arrival of the trees from me after swearing he wouldn’t share the information, this is top secret stuff. He’ll get me to crack the info by buying me some breakfast, I just can’t keep a secret when breakfast is involved.

EVERY YEAR HE literally pulls his tree from the truck, loads the tree right into his truck still tightly wrapped in its string bikini, the tree not my buddy. Sight unseen! We began to post that on facebook because it was so much fun to see someone get so enthusiastic about anything! People began to take note of these shenanigans and decided to try to beat him to the punch by arriving early, I mean early. I have heard several people who are determined to beat him this year so I’m imagining that we will be selling Christmas trees as we are unloading, I won’t complain about that, I just wonder at what point is someone going to set up a tent and camp out in the Garden Works parking lot. That’s when we know we still have some Christmas spirit.

Our tradition is to turn on the Christmas music at the nursery the day we start tying the trees up and the music never stops until we go home on Christmas Eve. By that time the songs are etched into my skull and I feel like a lunatic walking around with jingle bells on repeat stuck on the brain for for two months. The customers who like to pick out their trees early often come to purchase and tag the tree. They bring their stand with them so we can put the tree into the stand and fill it with water and store it in a cool place so it can be delivered on a later date. That’s the best way to do it for nurseries and for you. You can mark “find the best Christmas tree ever” off your list and we can mark “sell the most Christmas trees ever” off of ours.

Right after Thanksgiving is when most people bring the tree in the house for decorating. From Thanksgiving we have five weeks that the tree will be expected to stand to its utmost splendor at the tail end of those five weeks. There are some things that you can do to give the tree a fighting chance to look great for Christmas Eve photos. Having the tree under or near a vent will dry the tree out very quickly. Fill the water reservoir in the stand the minute you get the tree delivered and settled into it’s corner. Use a pine needle prolonger. Anywhere you buy a tree will offer these packets of powder that you pour into the reservoir with water, it works and worth a little trouble. There’s not much worse than to see the tree beginning to brown around the twenty first of December. When you come to shop trees at a garden center bring your stand so if you find the tree you like we can put the stand on there for you nice and straight so you don’t have to get your chainsaw out and sticky for one little cut, then we tie it on top of you vehicle or in your truck.

WE KEEP THE wreaths and garland in the produce cooler so it will stay fresh for the decorating season. We will have some sample ones out for display if its not warm or in the cooler if summer rolls back in after thanksgiving. The poinsettias should be arriving soon after along with anything else Christmas like conical shaped rosemary plants, Ivy’s on trellises, red Anthuriums and little table top live christmas trees. Most fun of all this year is the purchases that Mimi and Mark made this past market trip. They bought not only very cool gifts but also the decorations are their best ever. I remember on decoration buying day this year they were In particularly dastardly tricksters moods, spirits were high going in and I remember wondering how this nutty vibe would affect the purchases. The outcome was there is a lot of humor in the style decorations from this years trip, I love how it came together and it feels great. You never know what’s coming when Mimi and Mark get on that bus, so much fun to watch.

Some garden centers are big into offering decorations for your home and yard, some are great at offering the perfect gift for those on your not naughty list. Check us all out, I’d be willing to bet that you can get all your Holiday decorations and gift buying done by shopping at all of our local garden centers. I hope you can get the things on your list done with ease making the holidays more fun and relaxing. The nurseries in town are ready when you are.

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