Spruce up for Christmas

01:00 Sun 17th Dec 2000 |

IS your Christmas tree the kind you drag out of the loft and plug in every festive season, or do you insist on the real thing, needles and all

Artificial trees may be convenient, and increasingly realistic, but they just aren't in keeping for the true Christmas enthusiast.

Chopping down a tree and putting it in our homes goes back to pagan times, when greenery in the depth of winter was reassurance that the sun would show up again come next spring.

Some purists object to the annual 'cull' of trees for a few weeks show in the front window, and point out that nearly all grown in this country are non-native.

But, while in the ground they are doing their bit to absorb greenhouse gasses, and they must be greener than a fake one made out of plastics.

Increasingly Christmas trees sold in this country are from sustainable sources; i.e. for each one felled a new one is planted. If you want to make quite sure, ask if the grower is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved.

Better still, grow your own. If you're very patient you can get seed, but nowadays most garden centres will offer a range of container grown varieties.

It can become a garden feature for 49 weeks of the year then brought into the house - preferably a cool spot. As long as it is fed and watered and not kept inside too long you should be able to return it to the elements without any side effects.

For the house proud it is the daily carpet of needles, clogging up hoovers and lodging themselves in new Christmas socks, that is the curse of having a real tree.

The standard Christmas tree is the Norway Spruce, which does drop its needles, especially if not given enough water. If the tree still has some roots on that will help, otherwise cut a little off the base and stand in water before bringing inside. Once in the house put in a container with water at the bottom or in damp soil or sand.

If you’re prepared to shell out a little extra there are a number of trees that hold onto their needles.

Among the best is the Nordmann fir, a bushy but slower growing tree, and the similar Noble fir, which has a bluey tinge to it.

Is Christmas really the same without one Click here to have your say.

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