Sunday, 4 December 2016

SELECTING YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE


Selecting a Christmas tree to bring home and decorate is a key part of Christmas. Take the stress out of the task by following this guide to selecting and keeping your tree.

Whether you choose a traditional Norway spruce or decide to go for a non-drop variety, you need to ensure that you choose a well-balanced, quality trees that will last throughout Christmas and into the New Year.

The longest lasting trees are the ones you get cut down when you buy them.  You know that they have not been hanging around for weeks on end waiting to get sold.  Buying fresh ensures that the needles are held fast and the tree is in a good condition.  As soon as the tree is cut, it will slowly start to shrink and die so newer is best.

Ensure you see your tree unwrapped before you buy it.  Check the branches are not damaged, are even in spacing and that the branches are sufficiently covered in needles. The supplier should offer a wrapping service after you have selected it.  If not, you risk getting a damaged or poorly balanced tree.

Don't get carried away with the tree experience.  Take a tape measure with you to ensure you stick to the correct height and width of tree you require.  Unless you have ample ceiling height 8 feet will be the maximum height you select.  Go any higher and you will end up cutting out large chunks of the tree.  Ensure the width fits too or you will end up with a enormous visitor to the house over Christmas.

Allow adequate transportation home for the tree.  many trees get damages trying to wedge into vehicles or tied onto roof racks and speed along roads.  Be gentle to your tree and treat it well and it will last much longer.

Once home place the tree in a good quality Christmas Tree Stand.  Ensure it has a water reservoir as the tree will require water to prevent the needles form dropping at a alarming rate. Don't place the tree near extremes of temperature such as a radiator, window or draughty area.  You can buy spray cans of anti-needle dropping products, which work by locking in water to the tree by blocking the tiny holes in the needles (stomata).  There can be useful but are highly flammable so ensure no naked lights get near the tree.

You may choose a traditional tree, or wish to select a variety with better needle retention or in a different colour.  There are many varieties of fir, spruce, cyprus, pines and cedar trees that are sold as Christmas trees including:  

Norway Spruce, Picea abies 

This is the traditional British Christmas tree. Trees are triangular shaped, with dark green needles and dropping branchlets. Needles are rectangular in section and at the base of each needle is a twig-like projection (sterigmata) which remains after the needle is lost. Picea abies has a tendency to drop its needles, particularly towards the end of the Christmas period. Purchase your tree in the week just before Christmas to ensure your needles look good over the festive period.

Blue spruce, Picea pungens

The blue spruce offers an attractive blue colour and holds it needles well.This tree has stiff, waxy grey-green needles, a symmetrical form and a dense habit.  Needles are four sided with a very sharp point on the end, but are retained well on your cut tree. 

Nordmann fir, Abies nordmanniana

This is the best selling non drop tree variety.  Nordmann firs have long, full, lush, dark green foliage, which is soft to the touch and have excellent needle retention. It has attractive foliage, and its needles are flattened, glossy and dark green in colour.  The tip of the leaf is usually blunt so the needles that are not sharp and do not drop readily when the tree dries out. 

Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii

The needles are soft, dark green-blue green in colour and radiate in all directions from the branch. This variety holds it needles well and when crushed, these needles have a sweet fragrance.

Noble fir, Abies procera


The noble fir has a shape similar to a Douglas fir but is a deeper, richer green. It has stiff branches which make it a good tree for heavy ornaments, as well as providing excellent greenery for wreaths and garland. The Noble fir keeps as a cut Christmas tree for a long time.

Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris


A really fragrant native conifer with an attractive blue-green foliage and soft needles.

Lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta

A bushy tree, similar to the Scots Pine, with long green needles and a wonderful natural pine scent. Probably the best tree for needle retention and is perfect for those who like to decorate their tree a little earlier .



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