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O (find me a) Christmas Tree

By Ed Brock

Blue ice cypress, eastern white pine or Fraser fir, they all look good with Christmas lights twinkling in their boughs and presents nestled underneath.

Nevertheless, picking the perfect Christmas tree is not always easy.

Individual lots full of pre-cut trees began springing up before the last turkey was devoured and the area's Christmas tree farms are open for business. There are two Yule Farm operations in Stockbridge that are owned by a father and son, Worthington Tree Farm in Hampton and Bethany Tree Farm in McDonough.

“It'll be open every day after Christmas,” said Kathy Griffin at the Yule Forest farm in Stockbridge. “(This year's crop) is looking pretty good.”

The 35-acre farm at 1220 Miller's Mill Road did feel some effects from the recent dry months. The white pine lost some needles. But Griffin said they have a lot of Leyland firs, Leyland cypress, red cedars and Griffin's personal favorite, the blue ice cypress.

Yule Farm owner Spencer Grant said they've been in business for 25 years and haven't changed.

“We're one of the few farms where we're still using the same colored ribbons and the same price we started out with,” Grant said.

Keeping the same price makes it easier to sell trees, Grant said.

“And there's something to be said for having happy customers,” Grant said.

And Grant does more than just hand the customer a saw and let them at the trees. He gives tours and hayrides for children, holds scooter races and, starting with this Saturday and for every Saturday until Christmas they have a “present drop” from Grant's small Maule airplane at the farm's private runway.

“He flies really low and drops the toys,” Griffin said.

The farm is open every day from 10 a.m. to dark. For more information call (770) 957-3165 or go to their Web site at www.yuleforest.com.

Grant's son Allen owns Yule Forest Highway 155, also in Stockbridge, which is a separate operation, said Susie Grant, Allen's wife. They have a different stock of trees including Virginia pine, red cedar, Himalayan cedars and more. They have hay rides on the weekend and wreaths.

“The big thing that we do is snow flocked trees,” Susie Grant said.

The flocking is done on the farm for an extra cost that varies with the type of tree.

Yule Forest Highway 155 is at 13 Reagan Road open from 9 a.m. to dark. More information is available by calling (770) 954-9356 or going to their Web site, www.aboutyule.com.

Worthington Tree Farm owner Earl Worthington said his farm off Babb's Mill Road is the oldest on the south side of Atlanta.

“For years we've sold between 1,500 and 2,000 trees,” Worthington said.

Worthington has eastern white pine, Virginia pine, Arizona cypress and the Carolina Sapphire.

“That's a pretty tree, has a good aroma,” Worthington said of the last selection.

Worthington said he's not afraid of competition from artificial trees this year.

“In the last year artificial trees have dropped back.”

Worthington also has tours on request at his farm.

“We try to include some educational things, show them how the little trees are planted,” he said.

As a side note, Worthington said it takes six years to grow an eastern white pine for sale and he loses about 10 percent of the trees he plants before they reach maturity. And no, they don't naturally take the neat conical shape that is so common for Christmas trees.

“We have to trim them,” Worthington said.

Worthington's two sons come back home to help out during the selling season and his wife Ester helps out, too.

Worthington's farm is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. For more information call (770) 478-3677 or go to www.georgiachristmastrees.com.

Bethany Tree Farm at 511 S. Bethany Road has been in business since 1984, said part-owner Kitty Ahrano. On their 30 acres of tree lots they have Leyland cypress, Carolina sapphire and blue pyramid.

“We have a few Virginia pines,” Ahrano said.

They also have a cut tree lot with Fraser, Douglas, noble and blue spruce firs.

Like the other farms the Bethany Road farm had some trouble with the dry spell but not much.

“The trees lose some growth,” Ahrano said.

The farm is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. For more information call (770) 954-1665 or go to www.gachristmastree.com/Southeast%20Farms/Ahrano.html.

Here are some other places selling trees.

–Wal-Mart sells three different kinds of live cut trees in its home and garden section. Prices and types were not available.

–Walker Nursery on Walt Stephens Road in Jonesboro has Fraser firs starting at $25.

–Pike's Nursery in Stockbridge has Fraser firs starting at $49 and Scotch pines beginning at $21.99.