Elda Armstrong shows off the various sizes and arrangements of wreaths that she assembles at the Kingston tree farm. Nick Twietmeyer / Kitsap News Group

Elda Armstrong shows off the various sizes and arrangements of wreaths that she assembles at the Kingston tree farm. Nick Twietmeyer / Kitsap News Group

VIDEO | St. Mick’s is still spreading Christmas cheer after 32 years

It’s a family affair at St. Mick’s Tree farm in Kingston, where three generations of the Armstrong family regularly work together around Christmastime to help families pick out that one perfect tree.

On Dec. 14 Elda Armstrong, was hard at work in the shed at St. Mick’s, just off Hansville Road NW. Armstrong’s shed is cozy and a wood stove fire kept the temperature inside manageable, while cardboard boxes of recently-cut boughs offered the pleasant smell of freshly cut fir.

In 1986, at the age of 50, Elda and her husband Herb opened St. Mick’s for business and even after more than three decades worth of Christmases, Armstrong, remains a force of nature on the farm; and she can prove it. Just the other day, she quipped, a gentleman and his family came down the gravel drive in search of a tree — despite the farm being closed that day.

“He said, ‘well we came from a long way,’ so I said, ‘where?’ and he said, ‘Bainbridge Island!’” Armstrong laughed. “So I said, ‘well, you’re here, so if you can find a tree, I can cut it for you.’”

Sure enough, when the family had settled on a tree, Armstrong was there, saw in hand to cut it down for them.

“A nine-foot Balsam,” Armstrong recalled. “They didn’t help me a bit, I just went and cleared the grass and cut it off and said, ‘here ya go!’ I know how to do it all, I still can, I just don’t do it all that often.”

Armstrong still regularly assembles the wreaths sold at St. Mick’s, using branches from the various species of trees around the farm, as well as other greenery she keeps on the property for the specific purpose of adorning her handcrafted wreaths. A wide array of noble, grand, Douglas and balsam fir are coupled with accents of holly branches, andromeda, cypress and huckleberry branches, Oregon grape and salal. What results is a wholly unique, often bespoke (following the requests of purchasers) wreath that is both one-of-a-kind and also representative of the Pacific Northwest’s flora.

Armstrong admitted as she nears the one-year mark since losing her husband, Herb, it has been hard to keep up with the work of St. Mick’s. But with the help of her children and grandchildren she added, St. Mick’s is still humming right along.

“I’m doing better because I figure if I’m going to do anything, you better just get out and do it,” she said. “I was raised on a farm and I’m not used to sitting on my butt, I just keep going. That’s all I can do, I have to keep plodding forward.”

St. Mick’s Tree Farm is located at 29747 Hansville Road NE in Kingston, and the farm is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

— Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at ntwietmeyer@soundpublishing.com

The wreath station, features a pair of closing jaws, operated by a foot pedal, set into the table which crimps the wire wreath frame around the boughs selected by Armstrong. Nick Twietmeyer / Kitsap News Group

The wreath station, features a pair of closing jaws, operated by a foot pedal, set into the table which crimps the wire wreath frame around the boughs selected by Armstrong. Nick Twietmeyer / Kitsap News Group

Armstrong shows off one of her handmade “Pacific Northwest” wreaths. Nick Twietmeyer / Kitsap News Group

Armstrong shows off one of her handmade “Pacific Northwest” wreaths. Nick Twietmeyer / Kitsap News Group

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