Why We Use Balsam Fir
A Christmas wreath from Maine has become a holiday tradition for many families across America. Corporations, internet shoppers, early birds, last minute shoppers and just about anyone can take advantage of what a great gift idea a Christmas wreath or centerpiece is. A Christmas wreath is a decoration that appeals to a wide range of people, young and old, singles or couples and homeowners to name a few. A Christmas centerpiece is also a great gift idea that brings the greens and fragrance of the holidays inside.
At Maine Made Christmas we have been providing quality Christmas wreaths and centerpieces for the mail order customer for over a decade. Freshly picked tips are handcrafted into wreaths and centerpieces which are then decorated with colorful weather resistant holiday decorations. Our wreath is then carefully packaged and shipped directly to the customer to ensure that you and your friends and family receive the best product possible.
The traditional Christmas wreath is made from evergreen boughs. Balsam fir is the evergreen of choice at Maine Made Christmas. Balsam fir (Albies balsamea) is a coniferous evergreen common in Maine. Coniferous means the tree reproduces by growing cones. Evergreen means the leaves which are small needles that line branches stay green all year. An evergreen does not lose its needles. Many species of fir are used to make wreaths but balsam is known as the fragrant fir. The scent most people associate with Christmas is the fragrance of balsam fir.
Another reason balsam fir is a good choice for Christmas wreaths is that the needles are not so rigidly attached to the stem that they feel prickly. When you run your hand along a balsam fir branch the needles will fold next to the branch appearing to make the branch soft to the touch. This desirable feature though is why the timing of the harvest of balsam fir tips is very important.
A tip is the end of a branch or side lateral on a balsam fir tree. The tip is usually the growth produced by the branch in the last two or three years. When harvested and cared for properly a tip will not lose its needles, the needles are set.
In the wreath industry the term “set” means the needle will stay on a tip and turn brown over a period of time without falling off. The opposite of set is sprilling. Sprill is a local term for a needle. When tips are picked too early or stored improperly, the needles will separate from the branch so the tip is said to be sprilling.
The common misconception is that cold weather is what causes the needles to set to the branch. The old wives tale is that after three hard frosts tips will be firmly set. In Maine we may have three hard frosts by mid October or it may be mid December before this occurs. Actually, it is the amount of daylight that determines when tips are ready. What is affected by atmosphere and temperature is storage. Tips should be stored out of the sun in a cool environment until they are used.
Balsam fir is a great choice for wreaths and centerpieces because of its fragrance, soft touch and needle retention. Start a Christmas tradition this year by adding a quality balsam product to your gift list.
October 27, 2009, Author Robert D. Foss owner of
Maine Made Christmas Inc. a Christmas wreath
and Christmas centerpiece business located in the heart of balsam fir
country, Washington County, Maine.
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