Garden Detective

Jessica Damiano's award-winning garden blog gets to the root of things.

'Fiscal cliff' or not, Obamas stick with 54 White House Christmas trees

The outdoor White House Christmas tree arrives at

The outdoor White House Christmas tree arrives at the White House from a farm in North Carolina. (Nov. 23, 2012) (Credit: AP)

While Congress and the president are wrangling over cutting fat and raising taxes, and we're all teetering on the edge of the “fiscal cliff,“ the White House has decided to stick with tradition and deck its halls with a virtual forest of Christmas trees.

“We have 54 trees in the White House,“ first lady Michelle Obama told visitors recently,“ according to a report in the UK Guardian newspaper. “Fifty four: that's a lot of trees.“ Indeed.

The report is getting a lot of attention from columnists and bloggers, no matter their political leaning. In all fairness, 50 of those trees are part of a tradition started by Jacqueline Kennedy in which 50 themed trees would be decorated each year. Previous presidents have followed suit, more or less. But, still, at a time when the 99 percent is being called upon to make sacrifices, and most people are wincing at the $40, $50, even $100+ they'll be shelling out to get a live tree this year, maybe calling attention to this embarrassment of riches wasn't such a good idea. Especially when, presumably, taxpayer dollars made those purchases. Some might even call it a Marie Antoinette moment.

The official White House Christmas tree, which stands in the Blue Room, is an 18-foot, 6-inch Fraser fir from Jefferson, N.C. Fraser fir is my tree of choice, too: they don't shed needles as much as, say, balsam or Douglas firs, and their branches are strong enough to hold ornaments. I've always had good luck with them.

I spotted a good deal for Frasers at — of all unexpected places — Whole Foods Market yesterday when I was picking up bananas on my way home from work. The trees, which typically are the priciest variety, appeared to be at least 6 feet tall and were selling for $49 apiece. That's about $30 less than I paid last year for a similar tree elsewhere. I'm planning to go back and pick one up this weekend, unless you all beat me to it and clean them out now that I've opened my big mouth.

I wonder what we paid for each of the White House trees?

Above: The outdoor White House Christmas tree arrives at the White House from a farm in North Carolina. (Nov. 23, 2012)   

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