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Papa John’s Christmas Tree Farm has a variety of trees for the picking

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By Michele Roberts

KERSHAW – Nothing can compare to the aromatic beauty of a live Christmas tree when it comes to getting into the holiday spirit.

And a drive to the mountains isn’t necessary to choose and cut your own tree, thanks to Papa John’s Christmas Tree Farm, located about 14 miles east of Lancaster at 6980 Flat Creek Road (S.C. 903).

In operation for 22 years, the farm offers 40 acres of Virginia pine, white pine, Leland cypress, Colorado blue spruce and Eastern red cedar.

Two varieties of Arizona cypress – Carolina sapphire and blue ice – are the most aromatic of them all, said John Mangum, owner of the tree farm.

“The Carolina sapphire smells especially good,” he said. “It’s a very popular choice.”

Mangum said he does import the Frazier fir from the mountains, because they can’t be grown in this area.

The Frazier firs, along with the blue spruce and white pine, come with their trunks baled and wrapped in burlap for planting outside when the holidays are over.

Visitors to the farm can choose and cut their own tree.

You can bring your own saw or use one of the saws they have on hand at the farm.

For those who don’t want to or aren’t able to cut their own tree, Magnum has a staff on hand to do the cutting for them.

Once a tree has been cut, Mangum said, another “fresh cut” about two inches deep is made on the bottom of the trunk to allow the tree to take on plenty of water. Staff at the farm will do this.

The trees are trimmed and put into a tree shaker to remove all loose leaves and debris at no extra charge. For an extra $1, you can get your tree baled.

“That’s the only (extra) thing we charge for, because we have to cover the cost of operating the machine,” he said. “But beyond that, everything else we do is free, including tying to the roof of your car, if necessary.”

The farm also offers tree stands, bows and handmade fresh wreaths in four different sizes.

Mangum said one of their fastest selling wreaths is one made from a mixture of Frazier fir and Carolina sapphire greenery.

“It’s extremely aromatic,” he said. “We sell a lot of those during the season.”

As far as the care of a live tree, Mangum said there is really is no special trick to making it flourish during the season, other than to make sure it always has plenty of water.

“That’s the No. 1 priority,” he said. “Just regular, lukewarm water. You don’t ever want it to run out. That’s all there is to keeping a real tree fresh and fragrant all through the holidays.”

Mangum said over the years his farm has given away many trees to needy families, and his Sunday school class at First Baptist Church in Kershaw always sponsors a family during the holidays, giving them not only a tree, but a tree stand and a wreath as well.

“Everyone should have a tree at Christmas,” he said. “There are a lot of needy people out there and it’s such a good feeling, when you can give something like that to someone.”

Papa John’s Christmas Tree Farm will open for the season on Thanksgiving Day.

During the holiday season, the farm will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.