Nothing says Christmas like the smell of a fresh tree, and Blue Ridge Highlands’ choose-and-cut farms are ready to help you enjoy that holiday fragrance. Most even provide the hand saws and twine, and help you get the tree loaded on your vehicle. Make an outing of it by taking a scenic drive, dining at a farm-fresh restaurant, spending the night in a cabin, or perhaps starting your Christmas shopping at a local crafts shop.
Picking out a real tree rather than an artificial one is a green thing to do, arborists say. Trees pump oxygen into the environment, provide wildlife habitat, and are biodegradable. Some are even grown organically, without pesticides. A lot of families make a holiday tradition of visiting the tree farm, enjoying a hayride, sipping some hot cider, and seeing how Chritmas trees are grown. All in all, cutting your own, fresh tree is an eco-smart alternative – and fun too.
The Blue Ridge Highlands offers an array of choose-and-cut tree farms that cater to individual shoppers, ranging from the Hamill Christmas Tree Farm within Roanoke city limits to Slaughters’ Tree Farms at Fancy Gap, Check, and Riner.
Hillsville’s Reed Island Farm grows its fir and spruce Christmas trees and produce without pesticides and will throw in a free hayride, cider, and hot cocoa, if you visit on a weekend. Its Carroll County neighbor, Angel Wings Christmas Tree Farm, also makes a festival of Christmas tree-cutting season and has living Christmas trees to plant as well. They sell American Boxwoods for the horticulturalists on your gift list. Combine your tree-shopping with a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway and maybe a wine tasting at Chateau Morissette to spread the holiday cheer.
At Clark’s Hilltop Nursery and Rifton Tree Farm in Floyd County, as well as many other tree farms, you can pick out wreaths, garlands, boughs, ornaments, and a variety of live, balled trees. The Floyd County outing pairs well with a tasty dinner at one of downtown Floyd’s restaurants and an afternoon or evening of old-time, kickin’ music at Floyd Country Store. The store hosts the weekly Friday Night Jamboree and on Saturdays, Americana Afternoon and Americana Open Mic, showcasing everything from blues to bluegrass. The nearby Bell Gallery spotlights the hand-made work of more than 100 regional artists and craftspeople.
Over in Grayson County, the Christmas tree capital of Virginia, York Ridge Nursery has been letting folks choose and cut Fraser fir Christmas trees for over 25 years. Their wreaths and garlands are always fresh, and for really fresh, they sell live trees with root balls. The Mouth of Wilson farm also offers hayrides and refreshments and will cut and load your tree for you. Nearby attractions include Grayson Highlands State Park, Appalachian Trail, New River fishing, and good food at Log House Restaurant. If you want to make a weekend of it, they have a log cabin to rent.
In Patrick County, Ayers and Kreh Christmas Trees near Stuart will lend you a saw, give you a wagon ride to the field, and bale up your tree and offer you hot cocoa afterwards. Panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains make an added bonus. This farm offers traditional white and Scotch pines as well as firs, spruce, and Leyland cypress. Visitors can combine their drive in the country with a visit to beautiful Fairy Stone Lake State Park or a drive along the Parkway.
At Scott’s Swinging Bridge Christmas Tree Farm near Abingdon, there really is a swinging bridge crossing the North Fork of the Holston River. Blue spruce, white pine, Fraser firs, and more – all trees are $5 a foot and the Scott’s supply saws, tree wrapping, and loading assistance.
Not Far away in Damascus, Anne and Eddie Blevins’ Christmas Tree Farm sells homemade apple butter from their orchard as well as Fraser firs. They also offer other greenery for swags, wreaths, etc., as well as a grand view of Whitetop Mountain. Both Swinging Bridge and the Blevins’ tree farms are close to Abingdon, with its brewery, winery, fine restaurants, William King art gallery, Star Museum, and Barter Theatre.