About Maine Balsam Christmas Wreaths
The Maine woods are well known for their beauty, wildlife and multitude of natural resources. Many people in Maine make their living doing something different each season. Come fall, in our area, after the blueberries are picked, its time for Christmas wreath season. Tippers gather the balsam from the trees, These balsam tips are then made into wreaths and centerpieces. Wreath making is still a cottage industry with most wreaths being made at home, then sold to wreath companies who decorate and ship them. Millions of wreaths are made here in Maine. We support our local wreath makers. We do not purchase the cheaper Canadian made wreaths.
Christmas wreaths are made from the tips of balsam fir tree branches. The tips are usually 12 to 20" long. Sometimes the tips are broken into 2 or 3 pieces. Collecting these tips is called tipping. The tips are put together in bunches and wired onto a ring to make the wreath. A single-faced wreath means that the bunches of balsam are attached to only one side of the wreath ring. A double-faced wreath has the bunches of balsam built around both sides of the wreath. These wreaths are much fuller and much more desirable. Our vehicle (car or truck) wreaths are single faced wreaths. All of our other wreaths are double-faced Christmas wreaths at Acadia Wreath Company.
Cold fall weather causes the branches of the balsam fir trees to set. Setting seals the branch's pores with wax. Once the branch is set, the needles will stay on the branch months after cutting. If tipping occurs before setting, the wreaths will be brown sticks before Christmas. It is usually safe to tip after November first and after a minimum of three consecutive 20-degree-F nights.
The lower branches are shaded, making them have a flat needle
arrangement that is less full. The top branches dry faster and shed
their needles earlier after cutting. The middle branches have a rounded
or "bottle brush" needle arrangement. These are the best tips because
they are full and will not shed early.
Only part of each branch is harvested so that the branch can produce another tip for a future harvest. Its best to cut no more than half the foliage in a single year so that the tree can remain vigorous. For maximum tip production harvesting should be done every three years. Cutting from a tree every year will tap the vigor of the tree and eventually kill it. Our balsam products are harvested in a sustainable manner.
Why Balsam Fir Wreaths are the best choice
This premium quality short needle tree has lush soft foliage and sturdy branches that allows for easy decorating. Needle retention is good and it's the most fragrant of all the varieties....the true scent most associated with Christmas.
What's the history of balsam usage?
Balsam has been used by man for centuries. Icelandic seaman have
noted in their journals that date back to the 1300's that they observed
Native Americans using the tree medicinally for chest ailments,
laryngitis and sore throats. It's safe to assume that the Native
Americans used balsam for centuries before this.
Are there other uses for balsam?
The scent of balsam is commonly used in many products. Balsam needles are used to make balsam pillows which are wonderful reminders of the holiday season or of Maine. People use these pillows in their closets, cupboards, cars, boats and campers to freshen the air. Some ashtma patients say they breathe easier with a balsam pillow near their nose. Some folks use loose balsam in their bath by steeping the needles in boiled water, then straining the mixture and pouring it in the bathwater.
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