Local growers offer a variety of trees— and lots of holiday cheer
Whether it’s a long-held family tradition or an experience waiting to be crossed off your bucket list, there’s something enthralling about the hunt for the perfect Tannenbaum. Perhaps it’s the visions of family gathered around on Christmas morning, warmed by kinship and good cheer; perhaps it’s the memories made along the quest, traditions formed and Kodak moments captured while the kids are still getting along.
Whatever the reason, Central Virginia is home to a handful of tree lots and farms where traditions new and old find their roots. Even if your family swears by artificial trees, it’s worth taking a day to explore someplace new where you can stop and smell the pine needles, sip a warm drink and snap some Christmas card photos.
These particular farms are family-friendly and guaranteed to make spirits bright:
Green Needles Christmas Tree Farm
Over the river and through the foothills, eight acres of white pines and Canaan, Douglas and concolor firs grow in the blissful solitude of Green Needles Christmas Tree Farm. Owned and operated by Jon Perdew, the farm is a 30-minute jaunt from Lynchburg and mere miles from regional icons like the James River and the Blue Ridge Parkway, making it the perfect destination to behold the scenery of the season.
Perdew purchased the farm from its previous owners 14 years ago, and although farming and agriculture don’t flow through his bloodline, they’re second nature to him. The Maryland native worked as an irrigation contractor in his home state until his children’s higher education brought the Perdew family south, where he tried his hand at growing Christmas trees.
Fraser firs are hard to come by in Central Virginia because of the region’s climate. However, Perdew knows that some people have their hearts set on bringing one home, so Green Needles provides a selection of fresh, pre-cut Frasers grown in Floyd County each season.
Besides the ample selection of trees, homemade wreaths and the occasional appearance by Mama Crockett’s Cider Donuts and Sourdough Pizza Company, Green Needles offers fun for all ages. Find one of the three tire swings hanging around the farm or sip hot chocolate and mosey out to the foot bridge overlooking the pond.
And if you don’t get enough of the rambling landscape when you visit to score your tree, you can reserve the farm’s old Christmas shop-turned-Airbnb for a night or two in the off season. In the warmer months you can find Perdew at the Forest Farmers Market with the fruit and flowers that also sprout at the farm.
Green Needles Christmas Tree Farm
1175 Yew Tree Lane, Coleman Falls, VA 24536
Dancing Hill Christmas Tree Farm
Considered one of Bedford’s best-kept secrets, Dancing Hill Christmas Tree Farm will make you feel right at home among the towering trees, sprawling fields and glimpses of Blue Ridge Mountain vistas.
A Bedford native and retiree from the Virginia Department of Forestry, owner Richard Miles began planting trees in 1980 to learn more about the process as he helped others establish their own tree farms and to add a little extra cash to his children’s college fund.
Miles’ plan sprouted, quite literally, into a local legacy. Of the farms in the region, Dancing Hill is one of the oldest individually-owned—and with the help of his children, Miles plans to keep the farm up-and-running as long as he can.
On the farm’s 35 acres (six of which belong solely to the trees), Miles hosts an array of white and Scotch pine, blue spruce and small assortment of firs. Like Green Needles, Dancing Hill also offers pre-cut Frasers from Rifton Farm and Nursery in Floyd County.
Pack a picnic lunch and tailgate in the field, then wander over to the gift shop to find the perfect keepsakes for all your loved ones before cozying up on the front porch with a cup of hot chocolate. And don’t forget to pose for some family photos with the antique sled or the handcrafted Santa Claus, snowmen and reindeer displays—this year’s Christmas cards will be a hit for sure.
If your schedule is too full of festivities to visit on the weekend, the farm is open seven days a week. Just 10 minutes from local eateries in downtown Bedford, you and the kids can easily grab lunch and head for the Hill.
Dancing Hill Christmas Tree Farm
1401 Dancing Hill Rd., Bedford, VA 24523
On the outskirts of Roanoke, Ingemont Farms is a quaint and cozy winter wonderland. The farm is nestled on a hilltop overlooking nearby mountain ranges and five acres of picturesque terrain where the friendly farm dogs Jake and Jed frolic and roam.
When owner Geoff Trevilian’s grandfather started Ingemont Farms, their staples were blueberries, pigs, chickens and eggs. Trevilian added Christmas trees 40 years ago, fostering a passion for the green giants that had taken root in his childhood. When Trevilian was growing up, his “job” was to pick out the family’s tree every year; as an adult, it seemed fitting to be a place where other families could establish the same tradition.
Aside from his grandfather’s influence, Trevilian was greatly inspired by late local forester Robert Kennedy and attributes much of his success as a tree grower to Kennedy’s skill and bestowed wisdom.
At Ingemont, you have your choice of white pine, Leyland cypress, Douglas fir and a few Frasers, as well as Canaan Valley firs which, according to Trevilian, are a great replacement for Fraser firs if you can’t find the perfect one. You won’t see any pre-cut trees at Ingemont, however. According to Trevilian, it’s important to the farm that its visitors know their trees were grown there.
The farm has a “you pick, we cut” method to ensure the quality of the cut and the safety of the procedure. But if that goes against your tradition, Trevilian says not to worry—visitors are free to cut their own trees if they’d like.
Ingemont opens for tree-hunting Friday, Nov. 29 from noon till dark and every Saturday and Sunday to follow until Christmas. Weekday visits to the farm can be made by appointment.
1697 Camp Jaycee Rd. Blue Ridge, VA 24064
If you’ve never gotten a Christmas tree straight from the farm before, the excursion may seem like a daunting task. Luckily for rookies, Perdew, Miles and Trevilian offer a few simple tips:
- Plan ahead. Trees looks much smaller in the field than they do indoors; Perdew suggests measuring the space your tree will occupy in your home and having a gameplan for how you’ll get it there so you don’t end up with an oversized tree awkwardly anchored to the top of your vehicle.
- Fragrance. Consider which fragrance you want wafting through your home. It may sound odd, but according to Miles, different trees have different smells. Because of their sap, some spruces tend to release an unpleasant aroma, while pines smell more earthy and Leyland cypresses emit a somewhat fruity scent.
- Watering. You’ll want to get your tree in water within five hours of cutting it if at all possible, adding water each day as needed. Trevilian suggests adding water twice a day for the first few days after bringing the tree inside.
- Ornaments can make or break your tree (literally). The heavier your ornaments are, the stiffer you’ll want your branches to be. Miles suggests hanging weighty ornaments closer to the center of the tree and filling the outer branches with the lighter, more delicate ones to avoid a Christmas catastrophe.