All good things must come to an end. That’s what they say at least. And while I think that’s true, I think the end of one good thing is the beginning of another. The time has come to fell our “Enchanted Forest” and plant a new one. And don’t worry, our #1 priority is ensuring we have a place to hang seasonal decorations from.
A Little History
My grandparents planted hundreds of Christmas trees on our grounds in the mid-1980s, hoping that once they were mature, he could sell them each holiday season. For years, his only customer was he and my grandmother. Each year they’d trek into the woods to cut their own tree: something grand enough to fill the 12’ space between floor and ceiling in their living room, with a girth wide enough to fill the expanse of their bay window, and something strong enough to hold the hundreds of shimmering glass ornaments they hung from its branches.
Even after they were too large for anyone’s home, we kept the trees. Our family grew used to the shelter the trees provided to the house, blocking some of the road noise and providing an ideal view from the east side of the house.
A little over a decade ago, the trees became more. More important to our business. More special to a lot of people. And more essential to each season they helped herald.
It started when our groundskeeper got a great deal on plastic pumpkins after Halloween. Never ones to pass up a good deal, we had no idea what we were going to do with the pumpkins. Jokingly, my grandfather said, “Why don’t we hang them on the trees?” So we did. And like many things at Mister Ed’s, it just got out of hand. Pumpkins led to Easter
baskets, which led to flip flops, candy canes and crayons.
Now the question we get asked the most when we’re out and about is “Who hangs all the stuff on the trees?” We chuckle and reply, “Our grounds crew.” And you know what? They actually like doing it. Seasonal decorations on the trees has become a huge part of who we are. We can’t imagine a Mister Ed’s without things hanging on the trees. Even the digital trees on our website (www.mistereds.com) have decorations that change with the seasons.
The End of An Era…
We’re not exactly sure what’s been killing our trees for about 10 years now. One by one, it has taken each tree from us until we’ve been left with nothing but a few hundred brown pine
We know from the outset the trees were planted too closely together to reach full maturity. And being along Route 30 brings its fair share of hitchhiking pests to our property. In fact a few years ago we had to fell a more than 200-year-old ash tree that had fallen victim to Emerald Ash Borer.
...The Beginning of Another
In total, last year we cut down about 40 dead trees. We planted some replacement trees, a variety of species that would be resistant to disease and withstand the harsh conditions that come from being alongside a major highway. And now, the rest of the forest must follow suit. For anyone who has ever had trees taken down, you know the hefty price. Or for others who have planted trees, you know they don’t come cheap. The trees are a heavy financial (and time) burden to shoulder, but to Isaac and me, it’s a necessity.
This fall and winter, the rest of the trees will come down. Our grand plan includes some metal tree sculptures, trees planted in a variety of life cycles and a play area for children. We’re even building a rock wall using field stones that once made up Pickett’s Charge during the 150th Anniversary Reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. And like I said in the beginning: our top priority through it all is to maintain the ability to decorate our trees with seasonal cheer.
Bear with us as things look less than ideal for a while. We promise, the end result will be better than the one we started with. We’re creating a whimsical, sustainable outdoor space not just for us to enjoy now, but for many generations to appreciate well into the future.
Written by Nicole Bucher, granddaughter of “Mister” Ed and Pat Gotwalt, and now owner of Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum & Candy Emporium