Oh Christmas Tree, oh Christmas Tree, how USEFUL are thy branches! Ever wonder where birds go to find shelter from — well, this year — the bitter cold and snow or when a storm blows in? Your live Christmas tree can be RE-purposed into a winter safe spot for Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Juncoes, Sparrows and all other feathered friends which have to survive winter’s icy blast year after year.
My mom taught me to take our tree and just plunk it down, anywhere on the south side of the house where it’s sunny and always a bit warmer (relatively speaking) than anywhere else. You can either stake it in place, tie it to an existing tree, lean it up against a fence … it doesn’t matter. When the snow blows in and cold wind howls, birds will know exactly where to go. Birds are warm blooded and will puff up their feathers to stay warm but a little extra shelter will help.
Also , if you coat a pinecone in peanut butter, roll it in seeds and hang it on one of the branches nearby, you will make getting something to eat for them a whole lot easier. Just remember, if you feed them once during the winter, you HAVE TO KEEP supplying them with food all winter long.
Going back to the Earth
Most municipalities will pick up discarded trees curbside and cart them back to DPW headquarters to be chipped and shredded and re-cycled into mulch … big piles of beautiful, dark, rich mulch. PLEASE! Don’t put them in those horrid PLASTIC bags! As Green Diva Gina said, “That’s a bit counter-intuitive”. More often than not, all that great smelling mulch will be available (to all local tax-payers) free come spring. Mulch is such a necessary addition to any garden; it nourishes plants and will definitely keep weeds down.
DIY Pine Needle Potpourri
What? I mean exactly what I say … if only there were a way to share the AMAZING aroma of your Christmas tree’s needles, mixed with your favorite spices and more, simmering in pot of water all day long. Use small clippings from your Christmas tree to cook up one fabulous potpourri.
- Pine Tree Clippings – or loose needles, as many as will fit in the pot you are using.
- Lemon Rind – once I’ve squeezed out the juice, I use what’s left
- Orange Rind – same as above OR in this case, a lonely orange forgotten in the back of the fridge which dried out just a bit.
- Cinnamon Stick
- Whole Cloves
- Other Spices – I used a sprig of fresh rosemary (without trying to sound too hoity-toity, I have 2 big plants wintering over in my sun room) You can add Juniper berries, Rose Hips, Nutmeg … the possibilities are those which please your nostrils the most!
Here’s the “how to” … this couldn’t be any easier!
1. Cram as many pine clippings into your pot
2. Throw in your lemon, orange, other spices
3. Cover with water
4. Set on the stove — I put it on a back burner — on simmer
5. Add water as needed
6. You’ll thank me later!
You may also want to replace the pine clippings with fresh ones to keep the aroma just that much stronger. The best part is, if you keep your tree outside all winter long, you’ll have clippings until the summer begins to dry it out.
Now, if only I could find a way to do this “smell-a-net” thing! but then again, it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying as if you brewed a mix up for yourself!