Do green thing: Buy a live tree
center. The Natural Gardener has Aleppo pine and Italian stone pine right now as well as topiary rosemary, which can make a nice small tree. Barton Springs Nursery has Aleppo pine, Leyland cypress and a juniper that will work.
Once you get your tree home with its roots in a ball (not cut like at a tree farm), acclimatize it to your home by bringing it into the garage for three to four days. Then move it into the house, in a cool spot with a lot of sun. You want to avoid a space that is right under a vent or by a fireplace. Also, to protect your floors, put something like a tarp or a trash bag under where the tree is going to sit.
Living Christmas trees won’t last long inside — maybe seven to 14 days — so this weekend is a perfect time to get the tree, acclimatize it for inside and then move it outside to plant it. When you decorate it, avoid using hot bulb lights and opt for the less-hot LED lights instead, says Mark Slavens, manager of Scotts Miracle-Gro’s science and technology divi- sion.
Keep the tree moist, but not soggy. Nancy Rock at the Natural Gardener puts ice cubes on the soil, which slowly melt and water the tree.
When you’re ready to move the tree outside, first put it in the garage again for a few days to get it used to being colder. Then plant it as you would any tree. Dig a hole two times the width of the root ball. Plant it with one-thirds compost and two-thirds soil. Because of our less-than-stellar soil in Central Texas, amend the soil before planting with organic matter, garden soil designed for trees and shrubs, and plant food, Slavens suggests.
Some Christmas plants like poinsettias and Christmas cacti can be replanted in a bigger pot and turned into houseplants for the whole year.
Even if you don’t opt for a living Christmas tree and choose a cut one, cut the base half an inch before putting it in the stand. This allows the tree to continue taking up water.
When Christmas is over, drop off your cut trees in Zilker Park on Jan. 7, 8, 14 and 15 or, if you live in the city of Austin, you can set it out on trash day with ornaments, tree stand and tinsel removed. If the tree is more than 6 feet tall, cut it in half. The trees get made into Dillo Dirt. If you want a really cool thing to do with a cut tree and you have a friend with a pond, you can drop the tree in the pond and it becomes a natural fish habitat, Slavens says. at all.
As we wait for our second child, I know that the complications that come with an open adoption will only enrich our lives. I think of this other mother, feeling the kicks of a growing baby boy that she might place in my arms, and I am speechless at the sacrifice of love she will make for that baby. She has dreams for him, too, and I want her to be there with me, both of us mothers, to know how it all turns out.
An Italian stone pine is one of the types of evergreens that can survive in the Central Texas environment.
Living Christmas trees, such as this Afghan pine, will only last seven to 14 days inside your home.