Ask Dr. Bleedingheart

Bleeding Heart BlossomsDear Dr. Bleedingheart,

My girlfriend and I are about to spend our first Christmas together, and already we’re having problems.  She insists on getting a real tree, not to mention garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and just about any other living thing she can get her hands on.  I say we should get an artificial tree, or just not have one at all, before we allow a tree to be cut down in the forest. I thought she was a pretty eco-friendly gal, but now I’m beginning to wonder.  What’s next, an SUV and a plastic water bottle?

Signed,
I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Dear Dreaming,

Ah, the clash of holiday traditions.  And to think you haven’t even made it to food, in-laws, or the age-old Johnny Mathis vs. Perry Como debate. (Personally, I’m a Dean Martin girl no matter the season.)

The good news is that your girlfriend isn’t quite as anti-environment as you might think.  Christmas trees don’t come out of forests; they come from tree farms, where they are grown in rows the same way you’d grow corn or tomatoes. And a tree farm can be a surprisingly Earth-friendly operation: remember that young, growing trees sequester quite a bit of carbon from the atmosphere. Supporting your local tree farmer can be every bit as worthwhile as supporting your local beet farmer.

And believe it or not, organic Christmas trees are available.  Go to GreenPromise.com (http://www.greenpromise.com/resources/organic-christmas-trees.php) for a list of organic tree farms in 22 states.

But if the idea of a dead tree in the living room is too much to take, consider a live tree in a pot.  Ask the friendly people at your local garden center to help you choose a variety that will do well year-round in your climate, and remember that potted trees get heavy.  Don’t try it unless you have an easy way to wheel it in and out of the house as the seasons change.

And remember that a little flexibility around the holidays can be a go a long way. If she’s a Southerner, you’re going to eat a bite of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day whether you like it or not.  Look at it this way:  if the black-eyed peas themselves don’t bring you luck, making your girlfriend happy surely will.

Amy StewartAmy Stewart is the author of From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden, The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms, and the New York Times bestsellers Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers and Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities. Find more from her at Garden Rant.

Submit your own horticultural question to Dr. Bleedingheart by emailing it to: christinag [at] algonquin [dot] com

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