HARKER HEIGHTS — Laura Waggoner is done wrestling with her artificial tree,

Instead of venturing into her dark attic and going through the effort to bring her fake tree to life, this year she’s opting for the real deal.

“My kids have been asking me since last year to get a real Christmas tree and I couldn’t ignore the excitement in their eyes,” said the mother of three. “This is our first real tree and I am looking forward to making this our new family tradition. I’m just tired of taking it out, assembling it and making it look like a tree. A real tree is so much easier and it won’t take up space in my attic after Christmas.”

Waggoner thought her only option for a real tree in Texas was to visit a big-box store, but was happy to stumble upon Michigan tree farmer Doug Warner’s setup in Market Heights.

For the past four years, he’s made the 1,400-mile trip down from Michigan to sell Christmas trees that he grows on his Michigan tree farm.

Warner, 45, learned about Harker Heights through his stepfather, Gordon Tessman, who has operated a Christmas tree lot in Copperas Cove for 30 years. Tessman also lives in Michigan and transports trees from his home to Texas during “tree season.”

“The people here are really friendly and I’ve developed a loyal customer base,” he said of why he comes back to Heights every year.

This year he brought more than 600 trees, ranging in price from $18 to $130. He carries white pines, scotch pines, fraser firs and Douglas firs.

His top seller every year is the fraser fir, which he refers to as the “the Cadillac of Christmas trees.”

“This species doesn’t shed needles, it holds up real well and it has really strong branches to hold heavier ornaments,” he said.

Warner has been in the Christmas tree business since he was 14. When he was 26, a car accident left him with a spinal-cord injury and wheelchair-dependent. But that hasn’t slowed him down, and during tree season he can be seen wheeling around his lot tending to his trees.

“Growing trees is in my blood,” he said. “Real Christmas trees have been a tradition in my family, and I am happy to help people start the tradition in their homes here in Texas.”

Warner and his trees arrive the day before Thanksgiving, and he will stay until Dec. 21 or until he sells out. He accepts cash and checks and he is located in the Market Heights Shopping Center, across from Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“A real tree really makes it feel like Christmas here,” said Gabriel Neely, 12. “Fake trees smell like plastic, not like Christmas time.”

Other real tree options

  • Hidden Falls Nursery, 1600 W Stan Schlueter Loop in Killeen, 254-699-4600
  • Silo Christmas Tree Farm, 7617 McGregor Park Road in Temple, 254-986-7985
  • Salado Christmas Tree Farm, 10211 Sam-Neil Lane in Salado, 254-947-4477

Contact Vanessa Lynch at vlynch@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7567.

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