Rockin' around the (5,500) Christmas tree(s)
RED WING, Minn. -- Mark Bloom keeps a Christmas tree all year. Actually, it’s closer to 5,500 trees.
Rows of trees cover a large portion of the remaining 40 acres of his childhood farm. The area that does not have a tree or pumpkin patch is probably just lying in wait to host new trees. In April 2020, Bloom plans to plant about 1,200 more saplings.
After doing a little mental math, Bloom said than he has been selling Christmas trees and Mark’s Choose and Cut for nine years. He’s been planting and preparing trees to be cut and decorated by families for 17 years.
The rush for Bloom begins around Black Friday and lasts until Christmas. This year people began arriving to choose a tree on Nov. 17.
When a family arrives to choose an evergreen to adopt and cover in anything from lights to ribbons to strings of popcorn, they have numerous decisions to make: the size of the tree (usually between 7 and 9 feet) the type of tree and then, eventually, which of the dozens of trees that fall into the agreed-upon category is “the one.” Or people could walk the rows until they find a tree that speaks to them.
Currently Bloom has five types of trees available: balsam fir, Fraser fir, Scotch pine, white pine and, Bloom’s favorite, Canaan fir. The Canaan is a cross between a Fraser and balsam. Canaans have needle retention and fragrance.
While most trees are organized by size, there are spaces that include a combination of tree “babies” and those that are ready to be cut down. These smaller plants are second generation, meaning Bloom planted them to fill in for those that have been harvested.
The majority of people think about Christmas trees from Thanksgiving until the evergreen in the living room begins to look less green and more brown. Bloom, however, has them on his mind 365 days of the year.
Raising these trees takes much more than planting and waiting. In April, Bloom plants trees in new spaces and as second generation plants. Then each tree has to be fertilized, the grass throughout the rows mowed short and each tree has to be trimmed and shaped so that it maintains the classic Christmas tree triangular shape.
Trimming and shaping is a bit of a science. Some trees, like balsams, can be trimmed at almost any time of the spring or summer and be fine, according to Bloom. Others have an ideal window of only two weeks.
“I stay pretty busy,” Bloom said of caring for the trees. But when he has free time he likes to do woodwork. Some pieces, such as stars and small sleighs, are available for purchase in the gift shop. The shop also offers holiday decorations, ornaments and, a favorite among younger visitors, a train that runs around a tree.
If you go:
Where: Mark’s Choose and Cut, 29273 210th Ave.
When: The farm opens for the holidays in mid-November and is open through the season.
Time: 4-6 p.m. Thursday, noon to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A visit also can be scheduled by contacting Bloom at 651-764-1506.