A FRESH CUT ABOVE

For years, we have proudly grown your premium Christmas trees ourselves in a sustainable forest ecosystem. Mahoney’s Evergreens is led by Peter Mahoney, a second-generation owner at Mahoney’s Garden Centers who runs the company alongside his sisters and brothers. Here Peter shares the story behind the Mahoney’s Evergreens Plantation in Canada’s Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia.

 

scroll to learn more
OUR HISTORY  ^

At Mahoney’s, the holidays have become one the most exciting times for us as a company and a family. We love to see generations of families come through our doors each season who have adopted the Mahoney’s shopping experience as their own family tradition. It has motivated us for decades to work hard all year long to bring our customers top-quality holiday products, with a one-stop-shop experience for Christmas trees, wreaths, decorations, and holiday plants.

 

That’s why in 1975, my father, Paul Mahoney Sr., ventured to Nova Scotia in search of a better way to source Christmas trees for our customers. With growing our own plants being a core philosphy for three generations now, it only made sense for him to extend this to our Christmas Tree offering. By growing our own trees, we’re able to control the quality, quantity and delivery process to bring the best and freshest product to our retail stores. 40 Christmas seasons later, we will cut and ship approximately 12,000 Balsam Fir Christmas trees this year to our retail stores in addition to sourcing another 10,000 from quality growers who provide Fraser, Noble, Grand and Nordmann Fir Trees.

GROWING SUSTAINABLY^

At Mahoney’s Evergreens, growing responsibly and sustainably is our passion. Many would be surprised to find that the layout of the plantation is actually not orderly rows of easily-farmed trees. Instead, we grow in an undeveloped and wild forest ecosystem, where all trees are naturally re-seeded. The terrain is full of swamps, hills, and thick forests with pockets of prime tree growing space. Throughout the plantation there are 12 to 30 foot tall “mother” or “seed trees” that are strategically left standing to produce seed cones. The seed cones are pollinated by the wind randomly over the plantation. So, even though 12,000 trees a year are harvested, we only cut what we need, and we don’t deplete the land as far more seedlings sprout up on their own each year. At any given time we have over 1 million trees and seedlings actively growing.

 

If you’re wondering why we grow all the way in Canada, the answer is pretty simple: In 1996 Lunenberg County, Nova Scotia was officially named the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World. You’ll find Mahoney’s Evergreens situated 30 miles from the nearest hotel, restaurant or grocery store. The climate of warm, wet summers encourage thick green foliage growth. Cold harsh winters kill insect and disease and therefore do not require frequent spraying of herbicides and pesticides.

THE GROWING PROCESS^

While we do carry other tree varieties in our stores such as Fraser and Noble Fir, we only grow Balsams on the plantation. Balsam Fir trees are the most popular variety in New England and known for their fragrance, dark green color and superior needle retention. Did you know that not all balsams are created equal? Those grown in Nova Scotia have heavier branching with a more rounded brush. Not only do they look better, the branches support ornaments and your tree trimmings better, too! You’ll see this difference in our cut greens and wreaths which are also grown on the farm.

 

Many are also surprised to learn that their 7-8’ balsam took over 14 years to grow. It’s a funny way of thinking of things, but we are always operating 14 years into the future at Mahoney’s Evergreens. With frequent trips with a team of specialists, we make the trek to Canada to manage the land and tend to the trees until they are ready for harvest. On an uneven terrain full of brush, it is quite a labor intensive feat!

SHEARING & GRADING^

In the summer, we shear and shape all trees big and small. During the shearing process, we trim 1/2 of the new growth off each tree – this helps the tree grow dense, not spindly. By the time fall rolls around, we grade and flag trees with colored ribbons identifying different sizes and density. We’re very selective! If it doesn’t meet our standards, it won’t get cut and shipped that year. We like to think grading Christmas trees is like rating a diamond. We have specific criteria and standards in order to ensure the best looking tree for your home. We look for density, fullness, height, and shape. The better the tree looks from all angles, the more likely it is to be harvested that season. Our most premium trees can be found on Ruby Ridge, an area of the plantation that has the perfect climate for growing large premium trees. With the most fertile soil on the edge of a swamp, Ruby Ridge trees receive 360 degrees of sunlight. Look out for our 8’ – 14’ premium trees in stores marked with a ruby red tag! Chances are your tree was graded by me or my daughter, Shannon, back in September!

A LATER HARVESTING^

In mid-November we start our harvest season. We have a combination of specialists who do the cutting, baling, hauling and loading. This 2-3 week period is intense with long hard days to bring a tree from the forest to our Garden Centers, in a very short window of time. We patiently wait for 15 hard frosts before cutting the trees. This number is required to set the needles; otherwise they will dry and spoil too soon at home. With the warmer weather patterns in recent years, this means we often wait until mid November to harvest. Most large growers that supply the box stores can’t wait that long. By cutting our trees a full 2 to 3 weeks later than many growers, our Balsams keep their fragrance and hold their needles longer. Late-cut freshness is one of the best reasons to choose a Mahoney’s Christmas tree.

OUR TRADITION^

The most rewarding part of the whole process is watching families come into our stores and shop for a Christmas tree. We set up our trees forest-style – just like they are grown – so families can walk around and see each tree from all sides. When they decide on the “perfect” tree, we put it on our tree shakers to remove any older, loose needles. Then we saw about a half-inch off the trunk. This “fresh cut” opens up the cells and ensures the tree can take in the water when it’s brought home. Then we bundle the tree in netting, and conveniently mount and tie the tree on top of your car. All this is a free part of the service. We hear a lot of customers feel finding a Christmas tree at Mahoney’s is the start of their holiday tradition. Many have come here since they were children, and now bring their children and grandchildren!

STAY FRESHER LONGER ^

To ensure a fresh and safe Christmas tree, there are a number of tips to keep it hydrated. First off, make sure your tree stand is big enough to safely hold the tree and a lot of water. A four inch trunk can take up to one gallon of water per day. Give the tree water as soon as possible after a fresh cut as trunk pores can close up in just 6 to 9 hours. Hot water helps these pores stay open as does a tree preservative. Most importantly, don’t ever let your tree stand dry out. Over time it will take in less water, but still always keep the tree stand full! Also, do not add aspirin, bleach, or fertilizers to the water. They have been proven to reduce needle retention.