The Christmas tree, sparkling with Christmas lights and bedecked with Christmas tree decorations is a central feature of the festival. Sadly, its initial splendour doesn’t always last out the holiday. Some trees , end instead as a sorry spectacle – a skeleton of bare branches rising from a brown carpet of dry needles.
Some people avoid the risk by opting for an artificial Christmas tree, but most prefer the traditional live Christmas tree. However, with more choice than ever in the types of Christmas trees available, by picking a good specimen, and giving a little care for the tree a real Christmas tree should last the holiday in a blaze of glory.
Different Types of Christmas Trees
Six different varieties of Christmas trees are now fairly widely available:
- Norway Spruce
- Nordman Fir
- Scots Pine
- Noble Fir
- Colorado Blue Spruce
- Fraser Fir
Most garden centres and growers specialise in two or three different types, but if a particular tree isn’t available, all those listed can be obtained by mail order from internet suppliers.
The different species vary in density, shape and colour, but also importantly in the nature of their needles. Some are prone to lose their needles, while in others the needles are almost completely fast. Also, some needles are soft and easy to handle, while others are sharp, making the tree less comfortable to decorate.
Norway Spruce Christmas Trees
The Norway Spruce is the traditional and most widely available Christmas tree in Britain and many European countries.It is also normally the least expensive.
The Norwegian capital Oslo presents each of the cities of London, Edinburgh, Paris and Washington DC with a massive tree in gratitude for the part their countries played in World War II.
The dark green needle-like leaves are about ½ to 1 inch long and quite sharp. It is prone to leaf-drop, but this can be minimised with good tree care, and by applying a tree spray to prevent evaporation.
Trees have a fairly open conical habit, but some growers produce a denser tree by annual pruning.
Nordman Fir Christmas Trees
The Nordman , or Nordmann Fir has attractive soft green foliage and large needles up to 1 ½ inches long. The under sides of the flattish needles have blue white markings which can give the tree a silvery sheen from certain angles. It is particularly good at retaining its needles in a warm environment.
It has a particularly attractive, symmetrically tiered, cone shaped habit, quite broad in relation to its height.
These characteristics are making Nordmans increasingly popular, but they are slower growing and hence more expensive than Norway Spruce.
Scots Pine Christmas Trees
The Scots Pine has long (up to 3inches) soft needles which may vary in colour from light to dark green, sometimes with a bluish tinge. This is the best of all trees for needle retention.
It has a densely conical habit, with upturned tips to the branches, and an attractive fresh and slightly pungent scent.
Fraser Fir Christmas Trees
The Fraser Fir’s dense, soft needles are a deep green colour, with a citrus fragrance. Needle retention is very good.
It has a dense conical habit, rather narrow for its height, making it particularly useful if space is restricted.
Noble Fir Christmas Trees
The Noble Fir has beautifully fragrant deep green or blue-green foliage and very good needle retention.
It has an attractive conical shape and an open habit and is sometimes pruned by growers to give a greater density.
Colorado Blue Spruce Christmas Trees
The Colorado Blue Spruce has sharp needles with a strong silvery-blue colour and pleasant fragrance. Needle retention is good.
It has a symmetrical widely conical fairly open habit.
This is a striking tree, but relatively expensive, and often not widely available.
The Perfect Christmas Tree
Deciding on your favourite type of Christmas tree is only the start. Choosing a good specimen and caring for your tree properly are equally important in producing the perfect Christmas tree.