Do green thing: Buy a live tree

Trees

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - Con­tin­ued from — Com­piled by Vir­ginia Yapp; garden@states­man.com. Con­tact Ni­cole Vil­lal­pando at 912-5900. Court­ney Mor­ton is a li­censed clin­i­cal so­cial worker and works with fam­i­lies of clients with eat­ing dis­or­ders at Hill Coun­try Re­cov­ery Cen­ter. She ha

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.

LARRY KOLVOORD / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN 2002

An Ital­ian stone pine is one of the types of ev­er­greens that can sur­vive in the Cen­tral Texas en­vi­ron­ment.

CONTRIBUTED BY BILL SCHE­ICK

Liv­ing Christ­mas trees, such as this Afghan pine, will only last seven to 14 days in­side your home.

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