This year we have Fraser, Turkish, Nordmann and Douglas Firs from Hill Farms in Lehighton, PA, find out more about the varieties and the farm below.
Visit our garden centers where you’ll find nearly everything you need to create and maintain a city garden. Our award-winning locations specialize in plants and supplies for small-space growing, but we offer a lot more, too. You can visit us in Kensington or West Philadelphia, click here for hours & locations.
Inside the toasty greenhouse you can pick out rosemary trees, cacti, terrariums, airplants, orchids and houseplants. Now is the time to get your Christmas cactus, kalanchoe, and cyclamen. Plus, all year round in our greenhouse and garden shed, you’ll find fertilizers, containers, gardening gear, chemical-free pest deterrents, and more.
Around Thanksgiving we put all our perennials and shrubs away till spring. Winter means it is time for miniature evergreens, perfect for windowboxes. It also means that it’s time for holiday decorating with dwarf Alberta spruces, tiny (but not for long) Blue spruces, hollies, boxwoods and junipers – some in topiary shapes. We’ll also have wreaths, garland, swags and cut Christmas trees.
Having trouble planting your containers or choosing plants for your location? We’re here to help. Plus, we offer a variety of gardening workshops in the spring and fall – check the Events Calendar to see what’s on the agenda, or for the very latest Greensgrow news, sign up for our newsletter and for daily updates on plant availability–like us on Facebook. Join our Greensgrow Gardening Group on facebook to share all about your garden!
To find out exactly what’s available, give us a call.
Greensgrow Farms • 2501 E. Cumberland • 215-427-2780 ext. 5
Greensgrow West • 5123 Baltimore Avenue • 215-427-2780 ext. 6
Douglas Fir: These are the most commonly grown in PA and the variety usually chosen for Rockefeller Center. They are fragrant and have soft needles. If they are not fresh like our local trees, they will shed their needles more quickly.
Fraser fir: These are not grown as commonly in PA, most frasers sold in our area are grown in North Carolina. They have good needle retention and a fresh scent. Our farmer is in the mountains in Lehighton, PA where micro climates suit different types of trees.
Turkish and Nordmann: Very similar. Turkish are a variant of Nordmanns. They sport beautiful gray trunks and long glossy needles. Our farmer began growing them 15 years ago in an effort to reduce or eliminate the need to treat chemically like the larger monoculture farms that are more prone to disease.
On a beautiful day in August, Greensgrow West manager Lee took a ride up to Hill Farms, in Lehighton, PA a fourth generation Christmas tree farm a little under one hundred miles north and west of Philadelphia. It was founded in 1938, making this their 80th year, today four families call it home. They farm Fraser, Turkish, Nordmann and Douglas Firs on 280 acres in the hills above Lehighton.
Farmer Jeff Hill stays up to date, attending conferences and keeping up with growing techniques, but he lends equal value to all that his family has learned through 80 years of innovation and experimentation. All that extra effort on behalf of the Hill Family means you’ll get to choose from four different types of cut trees this year! Experimentation is a hallmark of the farm. Hill was one of the first PA tree farms to try to grow Fraser Firs, normally more comfortable in areas with less drought and and narrower temperature ranges (think the Carolinas).
In the the varied terrain with hills and valleys facing all directions, certain areas of the farm work well for Frasers and other spots work better for Douglas or Nordmann. While many PA tree farmers stick with tried and true Douglas Firs, the Hills have been putting in more unusual specimens in an effort to diversify rather than monocrop. Among the lesser known trees they offer; Turkish Firs are beautiful, full trees with sturdy branches, new enough to the area that the common diseases and fungal problems do not effect them, so they require the least treatment in terms of anti fungal innoculents and spray. Beautiful Nordmann firs, a European variety known for a straight trunk, firm branches and space for hanging ornaments, offer a nice alternative to the bushy and full Frasers.
With four families to support and a keen eye to the future, Jeff and his family care deeply about making sure they make the right choices for the long term sustainability of the farm and their neighbors. They live directly on the farm, and use very minimal spraying techniques, far below what the industry recommends as “safe” because they are all too aware that what is deemed safe now has a way of changing in 20 year’s time. Views on the farm are breathtaking, and driving over the dirt roads into the many fields, Lee noted the abundance of wildflowers and their various native pollinators. On the hot, dry day she visited, little tiny native bees kept landing on her while she and Jeff talked! Cone flowers, Queen Anne’s Lace, and goldenrod were everywhere, and the high growth between the trees was far from the manicured rows usually seen in so many other tree farms. This farm supports abundant wildlife who sometimes do damage. Deer and bears can take a toll on trees of any size, and some lovely little critters, perhaps voles or field mice, have been damaging Jeff’s seedling operation where he trials new seeds and growing techniques, but he takes it in stride and builds in some crop loss due to the local mammals as part of his planting plan. He is also working in some new techniques using reusable wrap around planters that air prune the seedlings and limit waste on the farm. Jeff’s wife, Tara, minds the communications and coordinates the business end of things, allowing Jeff to spend his energy with the trees and out in the fields, and also started a successful cut flower business, providing dahlias and zinnias to local florists in the temperate months.
During that August visit, Jeff was super busy tagging trees to determine which trees would be available to us come harvest time. We’re thankful he took a few hours out of his busy week to show Lee around and talk about the challenges and rewards of being a Pennsylvania tree farmer. Now, at this writing in mid November, the Hills are carefully planning the harvest to ensure the trees are cut, loaded onto flatbed trucks and brought to us as fresh as they can be! It won’t all fit on one truck, so we’ll be getting two shipments, on either side of Thanksgiving. Tree sales will start the Saturday after Thanksgiving and continue until we sell out, usually around mid December.