Oh Christmas Tree!

07 . 12 . 12

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and that means that lots of people will be out this weekend shopping for a tree to hang their decorations from.

We’re all for decorating your home with a tree and enjoying the perfume of pine sap in a responsible way, and thought that we’d put together a short guide for those of you about to trawl through the compressed and pre-netted forests of head-high spruces and firs outside garden centres and on garage fore-courts this weekend:

Pick your spot.  You’ll probably want to place your tree in the corner of a well-used room (so that you can enjoy looking at it) and out of the way of direct heat such as south-facing windows or the fireplace.  Consider whether or not your dog will frequent the space and decide to bark at your tree, chew it, pull it over or mark it as part of his territory.  Once you’ve picked your spot, you can measure roughly how tall your prospective tree needs to be, and the diameter of it’s lower branches.

The Choice is Yours.  The British Christmas Tree Growers Association has a list of recommended retailers on it’s website to help point you in the direction of retailers of responsibly sourced Christmas trees, rather than chancers who’ve visited the woods with saws and set up shop in a lay-by.

Don’t Fancy a Dropper?  You have two options for “real” trees: spruce trees such as the popular Norwegian Spruce, or the more expensive fir trees.  Spruce trees have a reputation for leaving you having to get busy with the vacuum cleaner in early January, whilst fir trees will hold their foliage for longer and tend to produce denser, more attractive trees.  Technically speaking, if you choose a spruce tree and keep it well watered then it should hold onto it’s green-bits for the duration of the festive period.

Pick and Pay.  So armed with an idea of what it is that you’re after and a tape measure and gloves, it’s time to go shopping.  If you look for a tree that was grown in a container, or has been “containerised”, then it will still have it’s root system and can be planted back out after Christmas to keep on growing, which we think is preferable and less wasteful.  The most important thing is to get yourself a fresh tree, so ask when their last delivery was.  Give your chosen tree a shake or if it’s a cut tree then drop it on it’s stump from a few inches off the floor and if it drops more than a couple of needles, or has any brown needles, then move on.  If you’re getting yourself a colossus of a tree then consider taking along somebody else to help you manhandle it back to the car.

Back at the Ranch.  Once home, drop it in a bucket of water outside (where it’s cooler) for a couple of days.  Then saw about half an inch off the bottom to open up the pores (if it doesn’t have an intact root system) and move it inside, placing it in a stand that will allow you to water it.  Or just use a bucket of stones.

Keep it Fresh.  Make sure that you keep your largest Christmas decoration watered so that it stays green and pretty.  It’ll probably need watering every day, and will drink a surprising amount of water.  Try also to keep it away from heat as much as possible.  It shouldn’t need plant food or fertilisers.

After-Party.  By January sixth you have wanted to take the tree back outside.  If you’ve got a tree which was put into (or grown in) a container, so has it’s root system intact, then you can plant it out to keep on growing.  More on that in an upcoming, post-Crimbo, blog post.  If your tree is cut and has no roots, then you’ll need to get it out of the house trying not to leave a trail of little needles in your wake, waiting to get stuck in your socks.  Most local authorities will run a Christmas tree recycling service, or members of the BCTGA will recycle your tree free of charge.  If you have a plastic Christmas tree then you can just stick it back in the attic, and after another year it’ll probably have paid for itself.

Alternatively…  You can rent Christmas trees from various companies who will deliver a tree to your house, then collect it again on January 6th.  They will then replant it ready for use in a year’s time.  You could plant a tree out in your garden and use it year-on-year, however be warned that they can grow up to two feet in a year so may soon outgrow your front room.  Norwegian Spruces can grow up to 25 meters (100ft) tall, so perhaps might not be suitable for small gardens.

Best of luck picking out a good tree and have fun decorating it, but more than anything enjoy having the smell of pine needles in your home for the next few weeks!

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