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Alex Mitchell
Written by Alex Mitchell 8th December 2017

Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree

Across the country, we’re busy decorating our homes for Christmas. The British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) suggests the third week after Advent, around 11th December, is the perfect time to buy your tree, so if you’re heading out this weekend, what do you need to bear in mind?

If you’re buying a real tree, buy a locally sourced one if possible. The next decision is whether to go Norway Spruce or Nordmann Fir. The Norway Spruce traditionally held the top spot as Britain’s favourite Christmas tree, a custom dating back to Victorian times. This bright green tree has an intoxicating pine scent which exudes Christmas spirit, but it quickly drops its dense, spiky needles, so buy it later rather than sooner and make sure you water it regularly. Spraying with 'Spray 'n Save' Christmas tree spray may help reduce needle drop. The Nordmann Fir meanwhile has recently overtaken the Norway Spruce in the popularity stakes, and part of the reason is that it doesn’t drop its needles. Eighty per cent of people buying a real tree now will opt for this variety. Renowned for its soft and glossy foliage, and symmetrical shape, it is both child and pet friendly. It is slightly more expensive than a Norway spruce though and has no scent, but then you can’t have everything.

Before buying your tree, run your hand through a branch of needles. If it's fresh, the needles should be a rich shade of green and shouldn't fall off.  Then, with a bit of love and attention, the tree should comfortably survive until Twelfth Night. Even though it has been cut, treat it like the garden in summer and water it daily. Christmas trees remember their roots and like it cold (that’s Russia for the Nordmann) so keep the room temperature as cool as possible - central and underfloor heating make pines weep actual needles. And if you love the idea of a real Christmas tree, but not so much the needles found everywhere long after Santa’s left the building, then it may be time to go fake. There is a lot of snobbishness surrounding artificial trees, but really, a high quality faux fir is poles apart from a faux pas. Far from saving the planet, most fake trees are made in factories in China with a carbon footprint to make your eyes water. Growing a real tree releases oxygen, absorbs CO2, and smells like Christmas. Now you just need to see if the fairy lights work this year.