What Does YOUR Tree Say About YOU?


We are what we eat, right?

What we wear says a lot about us, doesn’t it?

Basically, everything we put out into the world says something about who we are, and people are reading those cues all of the time. So during this holiday season, I did a thing that says something about who I am and where I am at the moment – I made my own Xmas tree, out of a tomato cage.

charlie brown xmas tree

What does this say about me?

Sad? Confused? Arty? Poor? This is a FAR cry from the White House trees! But hey, these are tomato cages, so Michelle should approve…

So what did your holiday tree say about you? Was your tree a real tree, or artificial? Did you get it from a lot outside of a mall, or did you go chop it down on your own from a tree farm? Did you decorate it from a collection of cherished heirloom ornaments, or did you create ornaments from popcorn, candy, and other items you had on hand?

Not all of us grew up with the tradition of  Christmas, but many people find it comforting to indulge in the festivities, and they put up a tree to honor the spirit of the holiday season. There have been a couple of years when I didn’t want to put up a tree (for many reasons), but I just couldn’t HELP myself, so I would end up bringing in a branch from a tree or shrub in my garden and decorating that.

Somehow, those small gestures became the most magical ones. I love the memories of my small, Charlie Brownish decorated branch-trees, and I really think my deconstructed tomato cage line-drawing of a tree suits me perfectly right now. It is a symbol of paring things down, questioning things, but still being in the game! Still wanting to celebrate and play!

I’d love to know what did you do this year for a tree, and to get your take on what it says about who you are and where you are in life.

I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season – Merry Merry to ALL!!!


Previous articleMerry Christmas from the White House!
Next article2013: It was a year
Ivette Soler


Fasten your seatbelts, Ranters, I hope you like riding rollercoasters! I’m Ivette Soler, a garden designer and writer who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. I have been designing since 1997, working primarily with the subtropical and succulent palette that thrives in my corner of the world. I started my blog, The Germinatrix, in 2004, and I have been enjoying a vibrant dialog with the online garden community ever sine. In 2011, Timber Press published my book “The Edible Front Yard“, in which I make the case for ridding ourselves of thirsty, dull front lawns in favor of beautiful, bountiful gardens that mix food with ornamentals. I am thrilled to be a part of this illustrious and opinionated group, and am looking forward to RANTING with all of you!

Let’s do a little speed-dating so you can get to know me better:

I am a Believer – I know that gardens and gardening can and will make this world a better place.

I am a Maximalist – I believe that more is more and more is better than less!

I am against Horticultural Xenophobia – If you believe that we must eliminate well-chosen exotics from our landscapes in favor of a natives-only palette, we might have words.

I am a Talker – I love to get into it! If you have anything you want to challenge me about, or if you want to dialog about anything I post, please comment away! My love of blogging is rooted in dialoging with a large number of passionate gardeners with diverse opinions. I will rant, and I expect you to RANT BACK

I cast a wide net – This is a big world, and I believe our gardens are more interesting when we open ourselves up to ideas other than those that come to us from the established gardening world. I am inspired by fine art, literature, product design, theatre, fashion … you get the picture. I will often bring in ideas from other areas of culture to our conversations about gardens and the way we garden.

I like exclamation points and sometimes … yes … ALL CAPS – I really talk like this!!!! I can’t help it!!!

I am eager to move the conversation about gardening and the place it has in our lives forward, so hop on, make sure you are strapped in tightly, and LET’S GO!


  1. I’m treeless myself. Mostly I blame my 3 cats for my treeless condition – they’d knock it over in a New York minute! Also, I don’t celebrate Christmas. But I AM affected by the cold and dark of winter and so decided to decorate FOR THE WINTER. Went out yesterday and got a bunch of decorations on super-sale and just today hung them. Nothing that screams CHRISTMAS and will look out of place in a week. Mostly natural-looking bits and ornaments depicting animals, which I’ve hung over my kitchen window. They’ve cheered me up already.

    • Hahahaha! I love it Susan – the AFTER Xmas decorations! Why not? It is the perfect time to celebrate the holidays without feeling like you are bing swept up into the “holidaze”. I think I’m going to copy you next year

  2. I appreciate the simplicity of your tomato cage tree – it still projects the spirit of the season. I’ve only gone tree-less once myself, when we moved into our current house 3 years ago just 8 days before Christmas. My husband would love to abandon the annual tree altogether but I can’t do without the smell and, yes, the nostalgia of dragging out ornaments collected over the years. However, immediately after Christmas I always feel a strong urge to just chuck it out and get onto the new year.

  3. My Fraser fir came from a big box store. My daughter and I went to pick out the tree. I believe that Christmas trees and decorating have no connection to the birth of Christ. I have a tree each year because of tradition and that’s how I was raised and how I raised my daughter. She knows why we celebrate Christmas. I like live trees but we also have an artificial tree some years because I believe if I’m going to go to the trouble of a tree, lights, and decorating inside and outside the house, it needs to go up early and stay up from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years. A live tree would never live for a month in my house. As houses are in zone 7, our home is warm in the Winter; not exactly the condition for a cut tree. Ornaments used to decorate it are from years of collecting and those given to me by my Mother from my childhood. When my daughter was young we used to string popcorn and make paper rings for the tree. As I grow older and my daughter will one day live in her own home, I may not always have a tree for Christmas. If I do it may be a smaller one. I am also ready for the tree and decorations to come down after New Years as I anticipate Spring and a new gardening season and seed starting inside.

  4. I’m not into xmas and had not had a tree in years. But now I have a granddaughter, so last year bought an artificial pre-lit tree. For convenience, they cannot be beat. I really like your tomato cage trees. They fit with the original spirit of the season – the return of the sun – and the more modern phenomenon of the arrival of seed catalogs!

    • Hey Bitten! Yes, my interest in Xmas waxes and wanes, but my celebratory holiday spirit never falters. I wonder what I’ll do next year? If I can find a black artificial light-up tree I will TOTALLY do a Gothic Xmas!

  5. We had to go to an artificial tree years ago for many reasons, not the least of which is my allergy to pine (I get a small rash wherever it touches me). But I’ve always loved the glass ornaments and my tree is almost exclusively filled with them. I also have the side of the tree facing my plant room decorated with garden-themed ornaments! Among others, I have 3 greenhouse ornaments and 4 conservatories, plus a pair of Wellies. I also have a small aluminum goosefeather-type tree in the plant room with miniature garden ornaments (a small pack of seeds, a trowel, etc.). It’s great fun. And by the way, Ivette – that tomato cage tree by rights should be out in your garden. Lighted, of course.

    • Wow Susan, that sounds beautiful! An avid collector of ornaments! I always wanted to collect, but I also always want to do a different tree every year – I’m so flitty! I’m planning on putting the cage trees outside and see how they fare…

  6. Live tree. husband would go into a decline if we didn’t. Put White Christmas movie on to the groans of daughter. It has to be down on New Year’s Day.

  7. These are adorable. I hope I remember this. It would make a great ornament at the community garden. Did you use pipe cleaners?

  8. I work for an urban environmental npo, and this year I set up a live tree for the staff. We decorated it with dried, spray painted allium blooms, dried goldenrod, and other things I saved from our educational garden. We even made little ornaments out of some golden-skinned onion bulbs I had placed and accidentally forgotten about on a drying shelf. I seem to be in the ‘we have no budget for this but we will make it happen anyway’ phase of life.

  9. We went with an artificial tree some years back, and it looks nice, although I miss the smell of pine. Last year, however, our grown daughter moved back in with us and brought her several years of accumulated clutter to add to ours. No room!

    But our largest Norfolk Island pine (two feet and a half tall) makes a small and elegant tree. I bought a box of small ornaments and it is now sitting on a tablecloth draped over a stack of the kid’s boxes. And of course the usual wreath for the front door. Much less work this year, I admit.

    This all usually gets put away the weekend after New Year’s. I’m really rather overdosed on Christmas after so many decades. But the tree will always be there, even if scaled down somewhat.

    • I like your spirit Kermit – even if it might seem a little labor-intensive, we can always choose to scale down. But there is something that I would really miss if I didn’t do SOME kind of tree-like gesture for the holidays. Even one that looks mote like a rocket than a tree, which mine does in some angles.

  10. My tree this year was a sore subject. I decided to support a local conservation group and purchase a living tree that could be planted outside in spring. Overall, not a bad idea, but they did not tell me ahead of time that the tree should be inside for only 5 days or so. The tree itself is a decent looking white pine with a straight trunk, but it was balled and burlapped, then jammed into a large plastic pot at quite an angle. I tried to prop a board underneath to make it look straight but I failed. Because it’s a B&B tree, it weighs a ton and I can’t do anything with this tree by myself.

    So my tree this year was a tribute to the concept of a good idea gone bad!

  11. I LOVE your tree! Tried to do the Pinterest-y thing & twine burlap & lights around a tomato cage for outside. One blustery day showed me the folly of that idea, at least for my region.

    Our tree is always (save one year, which we prefer not to mention) a fresh-cut Silver Tip fir – somewhat Charlie-Brownish, for those not in the know, with branches perfectly perpendicular to the trunk at even intervals. It’s really a beautiful tree, sort of silvery-green with sturdy branches good for hanging ornaments that are best seen with some swinging room and good for draping cranberry beads & star garland. We started getting this variety back when we were first married & discovered a $10 permit and a trip to the snow could get us any tree we wanted from certain National Forests. These days the trees we get come from a farm, which is probably better in many, many ways than harvesting from forestland. The ornaments themselves are a collection of purchased ornaments with sentimental attachments (son’s blueberry pie; daughter’s owl; husband’s trout), or handmade (from my kid’s construction paper & pasta school creations, to the aforementioned star garland of 100 paper Bavarian 16-point stars strung on embroidery floss). We even have clear glass ornaments in which a snippet of previous years’ trees are preserved, the year marked in sharpie on the glass.

  12. Creative, but what of the poor tomatoes? For many of our early Christmases together, my wife and I decorated a large candelabra Euphorb which has many convenient stipular spines upon which the ornaments were hung. In her early years our only daughter was subjected to this “live” Christmas tree. Perhaps we warped her for life, but the plant finally got too big for the house and its annual summer migration to the out of doors. It’s been firs ever since; they do smell better.

  13. We ALways have a live Christmas tree – and have lots of family stories about the pathetic trees we have had, and the year a friend tossed a new angel across the room and it landed perfectly on the tree top. For the past two years we’ve gotten our trees at a tree farm. We ran out of trees we planted on our land for this purpose, but we did get 25 years of lovely or odd trees. I do love your tree!

Comments are closed.