Christmas Tree Varieties to choose
Christmas trees are part of a very long tradition. Several different conifers now vie for our attention. The most popular Christmas tree was the Nordmann fir. A very well behaved tree, it will keep its needles on, so it’s much more popular than the Norway spruce.
The Fraser fir with its much shorter branches fits well in a small room. Other popular choices last year were the Blue spruce, Douglas fir, and the Scots pine, even if its large, sharp needles make it less child-friendly and harder to decorate. But, the most attractive is the slow-growing, immaculately graceful Noble fir.
Treat your tree like a house plant
When buying a Christmas tree, treat it like a house plant. Just as you’d check that a plant’s leaves are fresh and green, without any shrivelled, brown foliage, be sure your selected tree has a fragrant scent and that its needles are green, not dry and brown. This, of course, is well nigh impossible when trees are imprisoned in nets, as they so often are in garden centres, so if you get one of these, you’re buying ‘a pig in a poke’. An alternative is to buy from a small garden centre or direct from the grower. The wonderful scent of a fresh, well-watered tree will greet you every morning when you enter the room, so it’s worth tracking down the real thing!
Keep it fresh
If you buy before you plan to bring indoors, leave the tree in a cool, shady place, sheltered from the worst winds. And keep it fresh by sticking the butt in a bucket of water. Then, just before the tree makes its ceremonial entrance, cut off a small part of the trunk to let it soak up water in a special stand or bucket wrapped in Christmas paper. This will keep the tree moist and slow down needle drop.
Bare rooted trees
Bare rooted trees are sometimes available and should be treated like cut ones. It is much easier to wedge them firmly: the last thing you want is a shooglie tree that’ll collapse on the assembled company crowding round the tree on Christmas morning, bent on opening presents.
Container grown Christmas trees
Potted trees have been around for about 25 years. Container-grown ones are often smaller and must have been grown in a pot for a year. Potted and container trees really are house plants and will need more water than you’d imagine, but the fragrance is something else. There’s a reasonable chance too that you could plant them out in the New Year and pot up for next Christmas, so you might end up with two trees for the price of one.
Recycle your Christmas tree
If you don’t or can’t plant out your tree, it will still be useful. Some local authorities collect and shred trees as part of their green waste collection, but, failing, or instead of that, you can still recycle your tree in the garden. When the needles drop, you’ll end up with lots of different sized twiggy branches that make ideal plant supports to blend in beautifully with a growing lupin or dwarf sugar pea. The trunk makes a good pole with lots of different uses in the border, greenhouse or veg patch.
Sustainable Christmas trees
Only food can be verified as being ‘organic’ so, compost, cosmetics or Christmas trees cannot strictly be organic. The best way of getting a ‘sustainable’ tree is to buy local and reduce needle miles.