By Brien R. Sörne
The oldest nursery in Tallahassee was founded in 1938 by Eugene and Ruth Ellis. Five acres of fresh produce, azaleas and an extensive offering of camellias grown on site gave locals a special place where they could always count on the owners’ devotion and personal attention. Today, that devotion remains the standard among the staff of nearly fifty employees who have created for many Tallahassee families a holiday tradition that has endured for generations.
At Christmas time, the scent of spiced cider and fragrant Christmas trees waft through the nursery offering families the opportunity to create their own traditions
with fresh wreathes and unique gifts to be shared throughout the season. A visit to the nursery is a special time celebrated in a special way. Eugene and Ruth would have heartily appreciated the young children who come in droves to discover the beauty of Christmas, eyes wide as they take in the rich display of poinsettias and, of course, in finding that perfect tree.
Regarded by many as the best Christmas tree species in nature, Fraser Firs are shipped to the nursery from the forests of North Carolina and the Appalachian states. The nursery keeps each tree fresh in its own water container, assuring guests of a worry-free purchase. Guests often quickly find a tree they love, leaving them plenty of time for a leisurely stroll through the gardens and gift shop – another joyful part of the Tallahassee Nursery tradition.
As the years have passed, Tallahassee has added festivals, parades and lighted parks to a growing collection of Christmas-time celebrations – a rich tapestry of traditions, new and old. Sometimes it’s the simplest and oldest traditions, however, that enrich our understanding of tradition itself. Each year, when families discover nature’s holiday gifts at Tallahassee Nurseries, they are taking part in a tradition that has stood the test of time and continues to enrich the holiday season year after year.
Tips for Choosing and Maintaining the Perfect Tree
Before you buy the tree, do a freshness test. Circle your thumb and forefinger around the base of a branch and gently pull toward you. Very few needles should come off.
Once you purchase the tree, put it in a bucket of water as soon as you get home.
If you have to wait a day or two before decorating, be sure the tree is stored in an unheated area away from direct light.
When you’re ready to set up your tree, make a fresh cut about ½ inch up the trunk.
Be sure to keep your stand filled with plenty of water, at least a quart per inch of trunk. If the water falls below the base for six or more hours, a seal of sap will form over the cut and you’ll have to make a new one.
See Mike Bellamy’s article for Christmas tree safety tips from the Tallahassee Fire Department.
Enjoy your tree! When it’s dry, seek out a tree recycling center to ensure your tree’s disposal is beneficial to the environment.
Come visit Tallahassee Nurseries and experience the southern Christmas hospitality inspired by Ruth and Eugene. You’ll leave with a tree, warm memories and a cherished tradition that you’re sure to enjoy for many years to come.