Roadside weed wishes you a merry Christmas after festive tree transformation

Click to play video: 'Sprouting joy: Community weeds out holiday blues with unlikely Christmas tree'
Sprouting joy: Community weeds out holiday blues with unlikely Christmas tree
WATCH: A weed growing under a train bridge inspired Julie Van Rosendaal to start an unlikely Christmas display. As Joelle Tomlinson reports, that was just the beginning of a dramatic holiday saga. – Dec 14, 2023

A unique Christmas tree is sprouting joy in a southeast Calgary neighbourhood.

Food writer Julie Van Rosendaal stumbled upon a large weed growing between the cracks underneath the train bridge connecting Inglewood and Ramsay. In a moment of inspiration, she decided to come back and decorate it during the holiday season.

“At one point I thought… that looks like a tree. I don’t want to pull it, I’ll decorate it. I hung one small ornament, and then I went back with a garland,” said Van Rosendaal. From there, the decorating efforts snowballed.

Van Rosendaal shared her heartwarming mission, dubbing the plant “The Christmas Weed.” It blew up on social media, with thousands of people liking and commenting on the weed’s journey.

Others, like Karen Durrie, shared that they had added to the festive display, writing on Van Rosendaal’s Instagram: “I added the star and a needlepoint snowman!”

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Click to play video: 'Thousands raised for Magic of Christmas at Global Calgary’s Morning of Giving'
Thousands raised for Magic of Christmas at Global Calgary’s Morning of Giving

Sadly, the Christmas weed’s fortune came to a grinding halt. In a Grinch-like turn, one day Van Rosendaal received a text from a friend saying the weed had been cut down.

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“I ran over there and it was in the gutter. It looked like it had been cut down,” said Van Rosendaal. “It really affected me. It was really sad.”

After sharing the Christmas weed’s demise on social media, the community rallied. A tree placed anonymously now sits where the weed once stood.

“There’s a whole little forest under the underpass. There are now four trees, a sign that says joy, some candles. It looks like a shrine to joy. It’s resonated with so many people in so many different ways.”

A plaque reads “A reminder that we can all strive to instigate and spread joy wherever we are.” Global News

The display is visible for those walking and driving by, and continues to grow. So far, Van Rosendaal has no idea who else has been contributing to the unlikely holiday display.

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“I think the weed does represent resiliency. When it had been removed, it showed how resilient a community can be, how it pulls together and where our priorities lie. It really focuses on the good in people.”

For now, the original Christmas weed remains a fixture on Van Rosendaal’s front step. She said she might clean it up and put it in a stand as a reminder of the light it brought to her holiday season.

Julie Van Rosendaal rescued the Christmas Weed from the gutter. Global News

“When one thing disappears, more grows in it’s place,” she said. “It really is our version of the Charlie Brown Christmas.”

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