By Carla Branch
Since 1982, the Gallery family has owned and operated Almost Heavenly Trees and Greenery, a Christmas tree farm in Augusta, West Virginia. Every year, they cut their tees and truck them to Alexandria where they sell them. That process began earlier this week and trees and greenery went on sale in Alexandria this morning.
According to the Gallerys’ second son Nate, “In the early 1980s, my parents found themselves with two young boys living in an apartment in DuPont Circle. My dad, who has always marched to a different drum, wanted a different life. He thought about moving us to a farm but wasn’t quite sure what type of farm he wanted.
“He decided that the daily feeding and care of animals wasn’t quite what he wanted to do but the idea of a Christmas tree farm appealed to him. He talked to some people who had tree farms in this area and he decided to give it a try.”
Phil Gallery bought 20 acres of land in Augusta, West Virginia, and started the farm. With the help of wife Shari, sons Matt and Nate and twin daughters Emily and Tory, the farm, which is either a labor of love or a burden to bear depending on the year, has thrived.
“We plant seedlings and nurture the trees to maturity,” Nate said. “As small children, we put the small seedlings in the ground and put the dirt around them. As we got older, we pruned the smaller trees and helped carry small trees that had been cut to the place where they are wrapped and put into trucks for sale. Now, we all do a little bit of everything, including selling the trees. The whole family really does help. We all come home every year if we can to help cut the trees and get them to Alexandria for sale.”
The Gallerys have Douglas and Frazier firs, white pine and a small number of other types of trees. “Probably our most popular tree is the Douglas fir,” Nate said. “Frazier firs are also very popular because of their fragrance and because they last the longest of any of our trees if they are kept watered.
“Some people prefer white pines because of their soft needles. It really depends on personal preference,” Nate said.
Dad, Matt and Nate all served in the U.S. Navy. One of the twins is completing a stint in the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan. She will not be home to help with trees this year. Nate, who lives in California, is at home with his wife and baby daughter. Matt has just returned home from attending school in London.
“When we were growing up, the farm helped us earn money,” Nate said. “My dad believes in hiring local high school kids and many of them work for us through high school and college. The farm has really brought us an extended family.”
The Gallerys will sell Christmas trees and greenery in the parking lot of Southern Towers, 5031 Seminary Rd., Alexandria, VA. They are open for business
- Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Fridays and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Sundays 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.