November 29, 2001 - Art of Tree Flocking

Glitter wafts through the air like fairy dust. The green of the forest pine takes on the color of fresh fallen snow. They're working their magic at the Christmas tree farm. When is the last time you can recall a white Christmas in south Louisiana?

For those of us who hunger for the glistening of snowflakes and the glitter of ice crystals on the tree, there is the art of the tree flocker. At the Christmas Forest north of Zachary that would be Herbert Hollins. He's been tending trees here since 1949. Flocking them is a new art form for Herbert, but he's picked it up fast.

"Like this Leland cypress," he says. "You know, you can't get too much flocking on it. You put too much flocking on it, and the limbs droop down." In these parts -- with good fishing weather more likely than sleigh rides at Yuletide, with Leland Cypress as beloved as Douglas Fir -- most folks still seem to prefer forest green to white flock, but Herbert lives to serve and flocks to please.

"I don't like to see flocking on them" he says, "Because you have too much mess to clean up after Christmas. All that stuff gets all over the floor." But for his own tree at home, he's going to do it anyhow. "Yes, I'm going to do that. I've got to satisfy the woman. You know how that is. You've got to keep them satisfied." Even the man with the flock has to keep a watchful eye on the home fires.