Day Trips

Day Trips
Photo By Gerald E. McLeod

Texas Christmas tree farms are just a short jaunt over the hills and through the woods. It might not be Grandmother's house, but wandering a field to select a perfect holiday centerpiece and sipping hot apple cider when the job is done could easily become a family tradition that the whole family can enjoy.

According to the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association, more than 150 tree farms have opened since the first one opened in Texas in 1975. One acre of trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people and absorbs harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Virginia and Afghan pines are the most common Christmas trees grown in Texas, but Leyland cypress trees are becoming a popular evergreen alternative.

This is the first year Bob and Marilyn Garber have sold trees at their Silo Tree Farm northwest of Temple off of State Hwy. 36. They actually grow the Virginia and Eldarica pine trees north of Waco and outside of Meridian and bring them to the former dairy farm about 12 miles west of I-35.

Some of the trees that Bob has grown reach nearly 20 feet tall, and all are almost perfectly shaped after a biannual trimming. Prices for an average six- to seven-foot tree run around $45. All of the trees are fresh-cut, except for the pines imported from Wisconsin.

Dominating the farm is one of the few silos made of red clay tile in Texas. Built more than 100 years ago, it once was used to hold dairy-cow feed. Along with Christmas trees, the Garbers are also raising pecans in an orchard near the creek and hope to soon open a bed and breakfast on the farm.

About an hour from Austin on I-35, the farm is off State Hwy. 36 on McGregor Park Road. Other attractions at the farm include Nana's Gift Shop with an assortment of Texas-made gifts. The farm opens daily during daylight hours until Christmas. Taking the long way home through Gatesville and Lampasas doubles the travel time, but it is very scenic. For information, call 254/986-7988.

Other tree farms in the area:

Evergreen Farms Christmas Trees has supplied the holiday tree for the Governor's Mansion in the past, and they're ready to supply yours. Tractor-pulled wagons take shoppers to rows of trees on the rolling hills south of Elgin. Along with a country store, they have a campfire with bags of marshmallows and hot apple cider.

To find the farm, take U.S. 290 toward Elgin and turn onto County Line Road, two miles west of town; go one and a half miles, and make a left turn onto Monkey Road. The fields are open weekdays noon to dark and weekends 9am to dark. For information, call 512/281-4833 or go to www.evergreen-farms.com.

Fritsche's Farm north of Giddings has a great selection of beautiful Virginia pines and Leyland cypress in the field off U.S. 77 near Lincoln. For a small farm they have a good selection of trees, including pre-cut Fraser firs.

The farm is open weekdays 3-6pm, Saturdays 9am-6pm, and Sundays 1-6pm. To find the fields take U.S. 77 four miles north of Giddings, and take a right at CR 114. For information, call 979/542-3452 or go to www.bluebon.net/fritsche.

Loma Alta Christmas Tree Farm, between Bastrop and Smithville off State Hwy. 71 on Alum Creek Road, is one of the most established tree farms in Texas. Wander around the scenic farm to see the animals, or take a drive through Bastrop and Buescher state parks when you're finished picking out a tree.

Open daily 9am-5:30pm, the farm grows Virginia pines and longleaf Loblolly pines that are native to the area. For information, call 512/360-2005 or go to www.flash.net/~lomaalta/.

Elgin Christmas Tree Farm used to be known as Nature's Way Christmas Tree Farm, but it still offers the same wide selection and friendly service. The farm grows Virginia pines and Leyland cypress, as well as selling imported Fraser firs.

Take a hayride to the fields, or check out the gift shop in the bar Mondays through Saturdays 10am-5:30pm and Sundays noon to 5:30pm. The farm is one mile east of Elgin off U.S. 290. For information, call 512/281-5076 or www.cycorp.com/christmastree.

601st in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of Day Trips 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.Silo Christmas Tree Farm

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Texas Christmas tree farms, Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association, Virginia pine, Afghan pine, Leyland cypress, Bob Garber, Marilyn Garber, Silo Tree Farm, Temple, Eldarica pine, Evergreen Farms Christmas Trees, Elgin, Fritsche's Farm, Giddings, Lincoln, Loma Alta Ch

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