The Lyle Christmas Tree farm, located at 1396 Knox Mountain Rd., Rockmart, represents a long-standing tradition full of memories and nostalgia.
Mrs. Lyle and her son, Collin Ray Lyle, operate the farm from the Lyle home near the Pizza Farm restaurant, perpetuating the almost-lost ritual of grabbing a saw, picking your favorite, and cutting it down to carry home—usually strapped to the top of a car.
The farm has been a long-standing tradition for the residents of Rockmart, beginning more than 35 years ago, when Collin took the family’s very first homegrown Arizona Cypress to his first grade class. Mrs. Lyle remembers the teachers of the school coming that very same year to pick out trees for their homes.
Mrs. Lyle’s husband, Cecil Ray Lyle, was the first to imagine a place where local Polk and Bartow County residents could cut down their own Christmas trees. As a member of his high school’s FFA (Future Farmers of America) group, Mr. Lyle obtained seedlings from the Georgia Forestry Commission and planted a single acre of white pines on his parent’s land.
The family continued to obtain seeds through the state forestry service and by the year Collin took his first grade tree, the couple had almost 100 trees on their land.
Regrettably, Mr. Lyle passed away on Christmas Day in 2007, but his spirit continues to live in the trees he loved to plant and tend.
“He’s the inspiration and the innovator of this farm,” said Mrs. Lyle. “He’s the heart of it.”
Now, the rolling acreage is dotted with countless trees, most ranging from five feet to nine feet. The family now obtains seedlings from a private nursery, and according to Mrs. Lyle, 80 percent of what is planted will grow into new saplings.
The family currently has a wide selection of Leyland Cypress, White Pine and Murray Cypress, all of which are pruned regularly and maintained by the Lyle family. Lyle said the eventual transition from predominately pine trees to cypress trees allowed for a shorter growth cycle. Cypress usually take only three years to mature, while pines need six to nine years.
When a tree is cut down, a seedling is planted next to the former tree’s stump, providing shelter and nutrients for the new tree to grow. This method of ‘offsetting’ allows for quicker, healthier specimens, and provides a touching metaphor for the holiday season and how a new year of life springs from the experiences of the last.
“It’s a service we provide here,” said Lyle. “We do the pruning and the maintaining, but the Good Lord provides the seeds, the water and the sunlight. He provides all of it.”
In 2003, the Lyle Christmas Tree Farm was selected to provide the Rich’s great tree downtown for the 50th anniversary celebration. The white pine measured 72 feet tall, and the famous Thanksgiving lighting was featured in several local papers and television news stations.
Lyle said that she has seen a lot of families coming to the farm, and the economy has not had a visible impact on this year’s turnout. As long as families continue to come out and maintain a great tradition, Lyle is excited to be an integral part of that custom.
“We will be here this year and next,” she said. “And these trees will be here for years to come as a symbol of the Lord’s light in our lives.”