O Christmas tree

Create a traditional atmosphere and set your nose a tingle with a real pine-fresh Christmas tree. 

Freshly cut trees won’t litter your carpet with prickly needles if you care for them properly, so if you’ve had a bad experience in the past and since opted for artificial, put it behind you and get real – afterall it’s more eco-friendly! 

The popular and very fragrant tree of Christmas past is the Norway Spruce (Picea abies), but today the Nordman Fir, which has a lovely symmetrical shape with strong branches that are perfect for holding heavy decorations, is taking over, especially as its non-drop needles are also very soft, making it a good choice for children to decorate. If you’ve got the room, there’s also the good old faithful, Scot’s Pine (Pinus sylvestris), which is big and bushy with extra long needles that rarely drop.

Why not adopt a tree and you can watch it grow, receive email updates and pictures of your very own Christmas Tree? After 5 years, you can collect or it can be delivered to you (subject to area – so check before ordering) (http://www.loveachristmastree.co.uk/delivery)

At garden centres and mail order suppliers you’ll find some of the more unusual varieties of conifers and plenty that are pot grown, so can be used again, and again. Where space is limited, consider the Fraser fir, which is a neat feathery dark green tree or the Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika) that is a slender tree with slightly weeping branches with a silver sheen and a blue underside to its soft, scented needles. And if you have a taste for luxury look out for Noble Fir (Abies procera), which is known and the ‘king of trees’ for its stately shape and elegantly curled blue-green needles that rarely drop off and a lovely aroma. 

Cat owners might also like to consider the ‘don’t touch me’ Blue Spruce (Picea pungens glauca) that has a spiky needles with a blue tinge. This ‘garden’ plant is usually sold in pots at 90cm -1.5m tall ready to be planted outdoors at the end of the festivities.

Buying tips

Wherever you buy your tree, ensure that you select for a size and shape that will fit in your room – not forgetting to allow for tree topper ornaments. 

If your are buying a pre-cut tree, test for freshness by running your fingers down a branch – if the needles fall off choose another as a little rough handling at this stage should not cause a shower but if it does then you’ll know that the tree has more than likely been stored inside for a period of time. If you intend to use a stand, rather than plunge it in a bucket of sand or soil, make sure that the trunk isn’t too broad to fit in it and choose a stand that allows for watering and top it up daily – an average Christmas tree will sup at least a pint a day!

Before bringing your tree indoors, put it in a garage or unheated porch for a couple of days to acclimatize it to warmer temperatures. Indoors, site your tree well away from radiators and fires and keep the temperature no more than 60C at night. Use a needle-retaining spray to help prevent water loss through the foliage and you should expect to see your display last well into the New Year.

Once Christmas is over, a container-grown tree will have a good chance of survival if transplanted into the garden. Other trees can be shredded and recycled to use as mulch in your borders or added to the compost bin. Check with your local authority to find out whether it operates a Christmas tree collection and recycling service.

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