CYPRUS GIFTSCouple donates trees to museum, SCHC

Published 11:30 am Friday, November 30, 2012

For four years, Francis and Joan Vriesen have grown cypress Christmas trees specially for the courtroom at the Old Court House Museum.

This year, a tree from the Vriesens’ property on Fisher Ferry Road also will grace the Southern Cultural Heritage Center.

Center office manager Angie Wilkinson said Joan Vriesen offered the tree to the center at the Hobbs Freeman Arts and Nature Festival on Nov. 3.

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“She had an exhibit in the art show,” she said. “We began talking, and she said she had a tree she wanted to donate to the center.”

The Vriesens have been growing Leyland cypress trees for about 25 years on a section of the 6½ acres they own on Fisher Ferry.

“We wanted to start a tree farm, but we didn’t have the time to devote to do it right, so we decided to just let the trees grow,” said the 82-year-old Francis Vriesen.

“We found we didn’t have enough room, because the cypress tree spreads out as it grows,” he said. “We’ve only been able to grow about 12 to 15 trees. Some of them died and we dug them up and replanted.”

Vriesen said the tree at the museum and the one going to the Southern Cultural Heritage Center were planted by his wife about 20 years ago and are each about 15 feet tall.

“They reached a height where we would have had to cut them down and give them to someone,” he said. “We have some that are about 40 to 50 feet tall.”

He said the Leyland cypress is related to the cedar and makes a good Christmas tree.

“It’s a very beautiful tree,” he said. “It grows tapered and grows very well once it takes in this soil. It will taper itself as long as it gets 360 degrees of sun.”

But the supply is dwindling.

“We only have about eight left, and not all of them can be used as a Christmas tree. We planted them on the only flat piece of land on our property. The deer walk in there and they eat the young shoots and branches and rub their antlers against the tree. That pretty much ruins them for Christmas trees.”

Old Court House Museum curator Bubba Bolm said the museum’s tree will be part of the decorations for the museum’s Dec. 8 Confederate Christmas Ball, a re-creation of the Balfour Ball 150 years ago.

Wilkinson did not know when the tree will arrive for the SCHC.

“I’ll have to call them and set a time to go and get it,” she said.

“Once it gets here, we’ll put it up in the auditorium,” she said.