Everyone has a mental picture of the perfect Christmas tree. Beautifully tiered branches covered with glossy green needles and rising to a soaring point; shimmering Christmas tree lights, sumptuous decorations and gaily wrapped presents. Even Scrooge knew exactly which one he wanted when he woke from his dreams. Finding a tree that lives up to your ideal (and your family’s or partner’s!) isn’t always so easy. Bringing home a misshapen tree that’s quickly surrounded by a carpet of needles can lead to a distinct breakdown in Christmas harmony. Following a few simple guidelines can save a lot of angst.
Where to Buy Christmas Trees
Always buy Christmas trees from a reliable supplier, ideally direct from a Christmas tree farm or grower, like Norfolk’s Elveden Estate. Many families find the trip to the tree farm and choosing which tree to cut or dig a real Christmas treat for the kids.
Failing that buy from a good garden centre. Take the trouble to find out in advance where the trees are being grown and when they are being lifted or delivered. Collect your tree as soon as possible afterwards; sitting around in the wind causes severe stress.
If you can’t find the tree you’d like locally, a mail order supplier like Scotland’s ChristmasTreeLand may provide the answer.
What to Look For in Your Xmas Tree
The most commonly sold tree, the Norway Spruce is often available as a bare toot tree. The persistent story that growers boil roots to stop you keeping the tree for next year is only an old wives’ tale – they‘re far too busy.
Unless buying a very large tree, a rooted tree is always to be preferred to a cut one. A dug, rooted tree that has been properly lifted and stored will always last better than a cut Christmas tree, and if you pot it up can often be potted up and kept for future years or far less chance of survival than one that has.
Best of all is to buy a pot grown Christmas tree, but this is only practicable for fairly small trees.
Make sure that the leaves are fresh and green, and that there’s no sign of leaf drop. Tapping the butt on the ground will show if the tree is shedding its leaves.
If possible buy your tree after the first frost has chilled the leaves and started the tree into hibernation.
Some people prefer a dense tree, others one with a more open habit. Either way, make sure you know not just the height of your room but the width of the space available at home.
Net wrapped trees are easier to handle and transport, but to avoid any disappointment make sure you see the tree out of the net before making your choice.
Which Christmas Tree Species To Choose
You’re likely to find a selection of different types of Christmas tree to choose from. They don’t just differ in appearance; some varieties definitely hold on to their needles better than others.
The traditional, least expensive and most widely available is the Norway Spruce. This is an attractive tree with small dark green needles. Unless carefully treated however, it’s more prone to needle drop than the other two popular species, the Nordman or Nordmann Fir and the Blue Spruce.
Christmas Tree Care
A warm dry room is not the best environment for any tree. There are a number of ways in which caring for your Christmas tree properly will give it the best chance of staying fresh and healthy in this situation.
Probably the two most important things are:
- To “heel it in” and protect the tree from the wind soon as you get it home until you’re ready to bring it indoors, and
- To make sure that the roots or stem are always kept moist.