It’s the busy time of year for the more than four-dozen Christmas tree growers in South Carolina.
Despite damage done by a Lowcountry snowstorm and two hurricanes this fall, farmers like Bryan Price of Lexington say it has been a normal crop.
“We had a little bit of trouble with the winds from the hurricane and excessive rain,” he said. “Sometimes, when the ground gets so wet, when the wind blows pretty steady and the trees would lean. So I had to go through a lot of my farm and straighten trees up and stomp them back in after the rain stopped.”
The coast was hit by a snowstorm in January which dropped five inches of snow. Then Hurricane Florence came ashore in the Pee Dee region in September and Tropical Storm Michael blew through in October.
“If we didn’t straighten them up you’d have a lot of crooked trees,” Price said. “You pretty much have to do it by hand and so I went through and straightened them all up and got them back where they’re supposed to be.”
Price said other members of the South Carolina Christmas Tree Association had similar problems but he said he has not heard of major damage.
Price’s trees will be decorating the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion for the third year in a row. He is at the mansion this week as the Columbia Garden Club decorates it for the annual First Lady’s Christmas Open House on December 3.
The trees at the Governor’s Mansion are Leyland Cyprus grown in South Carolina soil. But Price said he has several varieties for sale at his farm, including some firs imported from other states
“It just became popular several years ago,” he said. “A lot of people use Virginia pines and they still do, but Leyland Cyprus has become a very popular Christmas tree. Lasts a long time. Has very good longevity. Very little needle drop.”
Many of the tree farms in South Carolina, including Price’s, are agritourism stops, creating an atmosphere of family entertainment and holiday fun.
“While you’re choosing your tree or after you’ve chosen your tree you can toast marshmallows here,” May-Lan Tree Plantation owner Sandy Mayberry said of the Pelzer farm. “You can sample all of the ciders and jams and jellies. You can take a hayride.”
The First Lady’s Christmas Open House at the Governor’s Mansion is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, December 3. The open house is free and the public is welcome.