Originally created 11/28/98

Sizing up the season



With Turkey Day done, now's the time for most people to hunt for the best Christmas Tree in town.

Fortunately for Augustans, there's no shortage of places to go select a fresh-cut tree.

At local tree farms, some customers prefer to cut their own, but it's not required, according to Sylvester Bailey, owner of Bailey's Christmas Tree Farm off Windsor Spring Road.

"You can cut it, or we'll cut it, clean it up, net it and tie it to your car," he said.

Mr. Bailey has almost 6,000 trees to choose from, among them Virginia pine, Leyland cypress and Fraser fir trees.

At most farms, the chopping and cleaning of trees is included as a service to the customer.

At Bailey's, trees are taken to machines -- one for shaking debris out and another for wrapping the tree in netting. The machines mean less work and make trees more transportable.

Tom Sawyer of Tom Sawyer's Christmas Trees in Aiken County was one grower selected to provide trees to the Governor's Mansion. He took three Leyland cypress trees to Columbia on Tuesday. He chose Leyland cypress because they last longer.

A recent winner of two blue ribbons at the South Carolina State Fair for his trees, Mr. Sawyer said Leyland cypress are fast becoming a favorite Christmas tree in the South.

"It's such a clean tree -- there's no shedding needles and it's full and thick," he said.

If kept watered, they should last up to two months, Mr. Sawyer said.

If longevity is an issue, the key to a green tree all Christmas long is lots of water, according to both growers.

"You'd be surprised at how much water these trees take in the first couple of days -- it can be at least two gallons," Mr. Bailey said.

If trees aren't put up immediately after purchase, an additional half-inch to an inch of the trunk should be removed before placing it in water indoors.

Placing trees away from direct heat from air ducts will also make them last longer. For fire prevention, trees should not be placed next to fireplaces and wood stoves.

Margaret Weston can be reached at (706) 823-3217.

Area tree farms

Here is a list of some Augusta-area Christmas tree farms. Most locations opened Thanksgiving Day or the day after.

GEORGIA

Arnett Christmas Trees:

Take Georgia Highway 21 to just outside Sylvania. When you see Green Hill Baptist Church on the right -- there is a sign on the left -- turn left and follow the signs. The farm is 2.5 miles from the sign. Turn left on Bradwell Road. For information, call (912) 863-7962; open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trees: Virginia pine, white pine, red cedar, Leyland cypress. Size: 5 to 10 feet; Cost: $16 to $30

Bailey Christmas Tree Farm:

Directly behind U.S. Highway 25 at the old Food Lion Shopping Center. Turn left on Windsor Spring Road; farm is on the right.

Phone: (706) 798-4613; Regular hours: Monday through Friday, 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Trees: Virginia pine (10 feet), Leyland cypress and Fraser fir. (6-9 feet); Cost: $3.50/foot for Virginia pine and Leyland; $30-$48 for a 7-foot Fraser fir.

Birdsville Christmas Trees:

Take U.S. Highway 25 south to Waynesboro; take right at stop light onto Fourth Street; go past country club; at fork, go right; then continue for 10 to 12 miles; sign will be on right. Phone: (912) 982-1754

Regular hours: Sunday through Friday, 1 p.m. until dark; Saturday 9 a.m. until dark. Trees: Virginia pine, white pine, Fraser fir and Leyland cypress. Size: 6 to 11 feet. Cost: $15 to $90. Live Leyland cypress.

Green's Christmas Trees:

Take U.S. Highway 25 to Waynesboro, then Georgia Highway 24 through Vidette to Lockhart Road. Turn right, then right again onto dirt road. It is on the left. Also a lot on Peach Street, Louisville, and on South Harris Street, Sandersville. Phone: (912) 625-7723; Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. until dark. Trees: Virginia pine, red cedar and Fraser fir. Size: 6 to 12 feet. Cost: Virginia pine, $3/foot; red cedar, $4/foot; Fraser fir, starting at $25, individually priced.

Jake's Christmas Tree Farm:

Take U.S. Highway 25 south to Waynesboro toward Millen; farm is four miles south of Waynesboro on the left. Phone: (706) 437-0988. Hours: Weekends only, 9 a.m. until dark. Trees: Leyland cypress, Virginia pine, red cedar. Size: 5 to 9 feet. Cost: $14-$23.

Johnny Lokey's Christmas Tree Farm:

Four miles east of Thomson on U.S. Highway 78/278; turn left on Lokey Drive; cross railroad tracks; turn right. Phone: (706) 595-5308. Hours: Friday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Trees: Virginia pine and red cedar. Size: 6 to 8 feet.. Cost: $20.

Southern Christmas Trees:

Go five miles south of Wrens on U.S. Highway 1; turn left and go three miles. Watch for signs. Hours: daily 1 p.m. until dark. Trees: Virginia pine, Leyland cypress, red cedar. Phone: (706) 595-3858.

Weaver Christmas Trees:

From Augusta, take U.S. Highway 25 south to Waynesboro, then Georgia Highway 21 through Millen into Sylvania; stay on Highway 21 through Sylvania; the farm is off Highway 21, one mile out of town. Turn left at first light after you leave Sylvania city limits. Go to first paved drive, turn left again, trees are on left. Last year in business. Phone: (912) 564-9331. Hours: Any afternoon after 4:30, all day Saturday, and Sunday afternoon. Trees: Virginia pine. Size: 3 to 6 feet. Cost: $10 to $20.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Mason's Christmas Tree Farm:

Windsor Spring Road. Also has a choose-and-cut lot at 905 Sand Bar Ferry Road, Beech Island. Phone: (803) 827-0331. Hours: Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 1-6 p.m. Trees: Virginia pine, white pine and Fraser fir. Size: 7-8 feet.

Burnt Mill Plantation:

From South Carolina Highway 118 bypass in Aiken, take Wire Road to New Bridge Road and turn right. Go 1.4 miles and follow signs. Farm is on left. Phone: (803) 643-7000. Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 3-9 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 1:30-9 p.m. Open Monday-Wednesday, 6-9 p.m., week of Christmas. Trees: white pine, Leyland cypress, Virginia Pine, red cedar. Hayrides, $5 (under 6 free); wreaths.

Clarks Hill Christmas Tree Farm:

From Augusta, take Georgia Highway 28, Fury's Ferry Road, then South Carolina Highway 28 north toward Clarks Hill and follow the signs that begin at Clarks Hill post office. Phone: (803) 637-3797. Hours: Monday through Friday, 2 p.m. until dark; Saturday, 9 a.m. until dark; Sunday, 1 p.m. until dark.. Trees: Virginia pine, Leyland cypress, Carolina sapphire, Clemson greenspire, deodar cedar and red cedar. Size: 5 to 30 feet. Cost: $10 to $55.

Tom Sawyer's Christmas Trees:

Take Interstate 20 east to Exit 33; take South Carolina Highway 39 north for two miles and follow signs. Phone: (803) 685-7604.Hours: Weekdays and Sunday, 2 p.m. until dark; Saturday, 9 a.m. until dark. Trees: Virginia pine, white pine, Clemson greenspire, Carolina sapphire, red cedar and Leyland cypress. Size: 6 to 12 feet.

Tom Wright's Christmas Tree Farm:

Take U.S. Highway 25 north toward Edgefield, then take South Carolina Highway 121 east to Johnston; turn right toward Ward, S.C. Follow signs to farm. Phone: (803) 685-7952. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5:30 p.m. Trees: Leyland Cypress (up to 25 feet), deodar cedar, Virginia pine, Fraser fir, red cedar, white pine, Carolina sapphire (up to 15 feet) and Clemson greenspire. Size: 6 to 25 feet. Cost: individually priced.

Webb's Christmas Tree Farm:

Take Interstate 20 east, exit at Wagener; go right toward Wagener; stay on South Carolina Highway 39 into Salley. Turn east on South Carolina Highway 394; take 394 through Salley and take right on South Carolina Highway 389; then right at caution light onto South Carolina Highway 3. Turn left on next paved road; a sign will mark the entrance. Phone: (803) 258-3273. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. until dark; Sunday, 1 p.m. until dark. Trees: white pine, Virginia pine and Leyland cypress. Some Fraser firs will be brought in. Size: 4-10 feet.