It’s that weekend already – “what weekend?” I hear you say. The Christmas tree buying weekend, of course!

Is it only me? Surely I’m not the only who has a Christmas Tree Buying ritual? I know, you have one too right? For us it’s a family affair. We choose the weekend and irrespective of weather, it’s the weekend we go to choose our tree.

I go with a 6ft tree in mind and the idea of a short pair of steps to affix the topper (angel, star, mushroom (don’t ask I was being creative!). Mr H, on the other hand wants the biggest tree they have, even if that means affixing it to the top of the car and cutting three feet off to get it in the house once we get it home!

Our old house had a galleried landing and one year, Mr H chose the tree, and I decorated a third of it from the landing as there was simply no way I could reach it from the floor or the steps. It was beautiful, but gosh it did drop some needles!

There’s always a bit of a ‘thing’ going on when we choose our tree – a sort of Christmas tension. I like to look at each tree, put it back and move on to another. I then get upset when the first tree I looked at, decided was too short, stout, bare in the middle, or whatever, has now been snapped up by another less picky family.  ‘I promise to be less picky, I promise to be less picky’ is what I recite in my head all the way to the Christmas Tree Plantation in North Luffenham, but when I’m there, and the intoxicating smell of pine engulfs me, my interior design tendencies take hold and I’m back looking for perfection.

Once we’ve chosen one and finally managed to get it into one of those hideous white nets that are essential if any children in the back are to be able to see each other, let alone out the window, we are on our way and all thoughts turn to decorations. My favourite bit. Everyone knows I have a system and they are welcome to be involved but only to a point! I have been known to redecorate a whole tree once everyone has gone to bed!

When Miss H was small we had our family trees in the kitchen and hall and I gave her a tree just for her to decorate in the play room. It was so hard not to come and interfere, but I left her to it, and it had every colour, bauble and piece of tinsel from the box adorning it and she loved it. Some friends came over and she showed them her secret stash of baubles which she’d held back (unbeknown to me) so she could ring the changes on a daily basis. She was about six at the time so it just goes to show, the decorating bug is in the genes!

My favourite tree is always a Norway Spruce. They smell delicious and have a great shape but they do like to leave you a present of needles every day if not treated right.

My answer is to buy a Nordmann Fir and a scented candle!

With its somewhat leathery needles, it seem to last longer. They also have a slightly more tiered structure which means you can get your Christmas tree lights to layer upon them like a wedding cake when decorated - beautiful. Obviously they’re more expensive – not just because they hold their needles but because it takes an extra two years to get them to the selling stage. Or if you’ve got the space then a Scots Pine is the other obvious choice in this country. They have a conical shape and lots of needles which tend to be larger and therefore denser. They’re also a beautiful blue colour.

This year I think all trees will be more expensive, largely due to subsidies for tree production being cut in the Nordic countries, which has meant that fewer nurseries are growing them. On the plus side, it means we will buy more British grown trees but as UK growers have not been subsidised the costs will be higher than in previous years. It takes an awful lot of hard work and dedication, over many years, to grow a good Christmas tree so bear this in mind before bemoaning the price.

There are lots of old wives tales about how to keep your needles on your tree. Let me tell you for certain, the hairspray option does not work!

So here’s my top tip:

Get your tree from the field and into its position in the house within two weeks of it being cut. During this time is will lose water but if you saw off the end of the trunk to allow it to take up water it has the ability to re-hydrate itself. You can get proper stands which hold water but remember to keep them topped up.

Once your tree dries out you’ve lost the battle. And be warned; a six foot tree can drink upwards of three litres of water a day!

Happy tree hunting and if you see me up at North Luffenham holding up a tree and then putting it back, please don’t jump in, let me mull it over for another three or four trees before you nab it!

Happy Holidays

Ali

 

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