Baltimore county tree farm

Josh Taylor of Edgemere opts to carry a tree across the field to purchase at Ruhl's Tree Farm in Phoenix, Md. (Staff Photo by Brian Krista / November 24, 2012)

Opening day at Ruhl's Christmas Tree Farm, Nov. 23, found the day mild and bright. While many were out enjoying Black Friday sales, Ruhl's collection of trees in Phoenix attracted residents from around the area in search of the perfect tree for holiday celebrations.

The Sherman family of Glen Arm was the first to arrive down Ruhl's long, gravel driveway on "Green Friday."

With their two sons, Justin and Cody, home from Salisbury University, Robin and David Sherman decided it was a good time to get a tree before the boys returned to school.

"We always cut our own tree down," said David. "We don't always do it the day after Thanksgiving. They're home from college and going back this afternoon. If we don't do it today, it will be several weeks."

"We are not picky," said Robin as she walked with the family's dog, Raven, through the trees. But she said they wanted one that would be hearty and long-lasting. "We keep it up as long as we can. With all the lights, I love it. It is very peaceful."

Josh Taylor, of Edgemere, set off across Ruhl's 14 acres with a purpose — a big tree.

"I really go to maximum height," Taylor said, scanning the field. "We have a split level and the living room has a large ceiling. We can fit a 12-foot tree if we want to go all out."

His girlfriend, Kelly Ziegler had her own requirements for a tree — nice and full, with a good shape.

"I think I could be happy with this one," said Ziegler, as she and Taylor eyed a fir with a few gaps on the outskirts of the field. "It is a nice shape. If we put it up against a window, I would be more concerned, but we're putting it up against the wall."

Taylor and Ziegler have made it a tradition the last three years to cut a tree down the day after Thanksgiving. This year, they were joined for the second time by their friends, Stephanie Dietz and Ryan Wright, of Federal Hill.

"We live in the city in a very narrow, small house," said Dietz, as they walked through the field. "We also have a kitten and a dog. I'm interested to see what they will do with it."

Robert Ruhl, owner of the tree farm, said the first two weekends in December are always his busiest. He will be open every day from now until Dec. 23, however, as many families often come after school, too.

While many people have opted for artificial trees, there's nothing quite like a fresh tree, as Ruhl's employee, Paul Single discovered.

"I never had a real tree before," Single admitted. "Bob gives everybody he works with a free tree. I love the smell of Christmas in the house."

Baltimore County is home to several choose and cut Christmas tree farms. For more details and additional listings in surrounding counties, go to the Maryland Christmas Tree Association Web site, http://www.marylandchristmastrees.org.

Doyle's Christmas Tree Farm

1155 Bernoudy Road, White Hall. 410-404-2095, or go to http://www.doyleschristmastreefarm.com. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Sundays only, through Dec. 23. Douglas firs. Bow saws provided, free baling. Directions: Interstate-83 north to exit 27 (Mount Carmel Road) toward Hereford. Left at York Road. Go about 2.5 miles, turn right at Wiseburg Road. Follow to slight right at Bernoudy Road. Go about one mile to farm on right.

Davidson Christmas Tree Farm

1101 Emory Church Road, Upperco. Call 410-239-6556; http://www.davidsonchristmastreefarm.com. Open through Dec. 24, daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fraser, Douglas and Canaan fir; blue and Norway spruce, white pine. Small quantities (100 or less) of Serbian and White and Black Spruce, Concolor and Balsam fir. Wreaths, roping, baling, saws. Snack bar and gift shop on weekends. Directions: From Route 140, take Route 91 north to Emory Church Road. Left one mile to farm on right.

Feezers Farm

3700 Wards Chapel Road, Marriottsville. 410-461-5654, or email jfeezer3@aol.com, or go to http://www.feezersfarm.com. Open Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., through Dec. 23. Blue and Norway spruce, Douglas fir, pre-cut Fraser fir. Baling and free hot chocolate. Directions: Liberty Road toward reservoir to Wards Chapel Road and right onto Wards Chapel to farm.

Frostee Tree Farm

8926 Cowenton Ave., Perry Hall. 410-391-5113, 410-256-5560, 410-913-9452. http://www.frosteetreefarm.com. Open through December, Saturdays and Sundays only, 8 a.m. to dark. White pine, Douglas fir and Norway and blue spruce. Directions: From Beltway, take Interstate-95 north to exit 67A to Route 43 (White Marsh Boulevard), and east on Route 43 to Philadelphia Road. Turn right at light to next intersection and left onto Cowenton Avenue. Go over I-95, farm is on the left.

Martin's Tree Farm

18130 Falls Road, Hampstead. 410-374-2226. http://www.martintreefarm.com. Open Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Dec. 24. Douglas fir, white pine, wreaths. Wagon rides, food and saws available. Directions: I-83 north to Mount Carmel Road, and west on Mount Carmel Road to Falls Road. Right onto Falls Road to farm, on right.

Mount Carmel Tree Farm

2105 Mount Carmel Road, Parkton. 443-491-3323; http://www.mtcarmeltreefarm.com. Open Thursday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Dec. 23. Fraser and Douglas fir, white and Scotch pine, Norway spruce; also pre-cut Fraser firs up to 10 feet. Also pre-cut trees, greens, swags and roping. Directions: Beltway to I-83. North on I-83, take exit 27, left 2.75 miles to sign on left.

Ruhl's Tree Farm

14430 Jarrettsville Pike, Phoenix. 410-666-2924, or email myerspruce@aol.com. Open through Dec. 23, weekends, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Douglas, Canaan and concolor firs. Also blue spruce and Meyer spruce. Roping, wreaths, baling service. Directions: Beltway to exit 27B, Dulaney Valley Road. North for four miles, then left on Jarrettsville Pike for five miles to farm on left.

Waller Christmas Tree Farm

923 Freeland Road, Freeland. 410-357-5266; 443-895-3935. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., through Dec. 24. Douglas and Canaan fir, white pine. Also pre-cut Fraser fire. Directions: I-83 north to Old York Road. Take exit and head west on Old York Road to York Road, and right onto York Road to Freeland Road. Left onto Freeland Road to farm driveway, on left.