Flower Center continues 30-year tradition of providing fresh Christmas trees
There is nothing quite like the smell of a fresh evergreen tree, except maybe the smell of hundreds of fresh evergreen trees.
For more than 30 years, Flower Center Nursery has been supplying Vicksburg and the surrounding areas with fresh trees to use at Christmas.
And for Glen and Libby Beard, who are the owners of the nursery, the process of ordering the trees starts early.
“This year our order had to be in by June 30th,” Libby said. “There has been an increase in fresh-cut tree sales in the last few years, so I have to order earlier and earlier each year,” she said.
To ensure locals had plenty of trees to choose from, Libby said, she beat the deadline and placed their order on May 31.
The number she ordered was 385, the same as last year.
“We base our order on the previous year’s sales and how fast we sold out of trees,” Libby said.
All of the trees sold at the Flower Center, which is the only remaining locally-owned business that still sells Christmas trees, are Frasier Firs that come from a tree farm in North Carolina.
Libby said she likes Frasier Firs because they hold their needles longer and their branches are sturdy enough to hold ornaments.
Heights of the trees vary from 5-to-12 feet.
The most popular sizes are the 7- to 8-foot trees, Libby said, but she has noticed more and more 8- and 9-foot trees being sold.
Once the trees arrive at the Flower Center, the task of unloading them from an 18-wheeler begins.
Flower Center employee Jason Tarnabine said he has been helping with this process for about 12 years and knows it can be a sticky job.
“We definitely get tree sap on our hands when handling the trees,” Libby said. “Thank goodness for WD-40.”
Sap can also saturate clothing and both Libby and Tarnabine said they will wind up smelling like a Christmas tree for a while.
“I do love that smell,” Libby said.
By the time the trees have been unstrung and hung for viewing, Libby said, customers will have already made their way to the Flower Center to tag their tree.
“Most people pick them out early but may wait to pick it up or have it delivered at a later time,” she said, adding one year they sold out of Christmas trees in 10 days.
Picking out a Christmas tree varies from family to family.
Some will come in and make a quick decision, Libby said, while others will spend hours looking for just-the-right-tree.
Tagged trees that are not taken the day they are sold are put in the back of the nursery, Libby said, “So no one will be tempted by a sold tree.”
Jennifer Walker said she has been coming to the Flower Center for several years to get their family tree.
“They flock and deliver, which makes it so easy,” Walker said.
Tree flocking is done with a machine that holds the flocking material and mixes with water. A spray gun is then used for application. Depending on the size of the tree, flocking can take anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes.
Libby said they are seeing a trend toward flocked Christmas Trees.
“Last year we flocked 36 trees out of the 385 we sold,” she said.
Like Walker, Jackie Schauf, who lives at Lake Bruin, said she also likes the perk of home delivery.
“I am picking our seven trees — one for my daughter, one for my daughter-in-law, one for myself and trees for our office, and they deliver, which is awesome,” Schauf said.
Last year the Flower Center delivered 120 trees to addresses in Vicksburg as well as in Port Gibson, Rolling Fork, Tallulah, St. Joseph and Lake Providence, La.
Once the perfect tree has been found, Libby suggested using an appropriate tree stand.
“I am always amazed at the number of people willing to spend $80 up to over $200 on a Christmas Tree, but buy a $10 stand that will not hold the weight of a large tree,” she said.
Libby said this time of year remains among her favorite times of the year.
“In my time here it has been so much fun having the same customers come back year after year with their families to pick out the perfect Christmas tree,” Libby said.