At this time of year our Garden Centre is packed with beautiful fresh Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes, grown and cared for us by Brendan in Co. Cork. Some of our customers are mulling over the decision on whether to buy a traditional, fresh real tree or an artificial plastic one imported from the far side of the world - you can probably guess where my own thoughts are on that one!
Taking a trip to the Garden Centre as a family to pick out your own real Christmas tree is a tradition that you have every year and it’s a nice occasion with everybody helping to pick the perfect tree for their own situation. Every tree has its own unique features and there’s a tree out there for every scenario and we certainly make an event of the buying experience - getting the family involved in wrapping the tree and taking plenty of photos and making it a fun event and one to remember.
A real tree will also have that Christmas tree fragrance to fill the room and of course real trees have many environmental benefits, absorbing tons of carbon dioxide over their lifetime, providing shelter and refuge for wildlife and also providing lots of fresh oxygen every day. Our trees come from Macroom in Cork and all growers will replace every cut tree for a newly planted tree every year so they have a continuous crop to harvest so a very sustainable industry and of course providing local jobs and spin-off employment . When compared to an artificial tree which is most likely made in China from oil based plastic, not biodegradable or recyclable and a big carbon footprint with all the traveling involved it’s certainly not doing our planet any favours when it comes to global warming or contributing to a healthier planet.
Probably the most popular variety is the Nordmann Fir, they’re known for the non shed or needle retention, deep green colour and have a nice neat shape and you’ll find trees of all shapes and sizes - large, small, broad or slim. They were named after Alexander von Nordmann, a Finnish biologist who discovered it in Georgia and was well impressed by its attractive shape and size. This has become the tree most widely sold along with Noble Fir, a really beautiful tree and some Spruce, the Nordmann and Noble Fir are best for shape and needle retention.
If you’re buying a fresh tree the advice is to buy it early to have the best selection, you can bring it home but leave it outside, perhaps in a bucket of water until you’re ready to bring it into the house. It’s best to keep it in a stand that you can add water to - the Cinco Classic is an excellent easy to use stand - it will hold plenty of water and it will hold a different size trunk every year and very easy to adjust and set up and will hold a tree up to about 7 feet tall. If you cut an inch or so off the base of the tree it opens up fresh bark and allows the tree to soak up the water, keeping your tree fresh and helping to hold onto the needles - you should treat your tree like a bunch of flowers keeping it topped up with fresh water regularly - some people add sugar to the water or use 7up - but using fresh water and checking it every day or two and topping up when needed will be enough. Try to avoid having the tree in a very warm room or close to a stove or radiator as this will cause the needles to fall off earlier.
Then when Christmas is over there are plenty of locations to recycle your biodegradable tree - check with your local council for locations - some people hang on to the tree and use it in the garden to hang bird feeders off creating a small sanctuary for your garden birds - so if you’re in two minds which tree to buy hopefully you’ll consider a real, Irish grown tree
A few jobs for the week ahead;
- Keep those garden song birds in mind - put out a good mix of different bird feed to attract a diverse range of birds - they’ll certainly appreciate it in this cold weather.
- Plant Garlic, Winter Onion sets and Shallots for an early harvest next year - keep an eye on weeds and keep them under control around the vegetable beds before they become established.
- Plenty of bareroot hedging plants and fruit plants available now - great for getting extra value and ideal time to get them in the ground.
- We also got a great range of native Irish Apple trees - with names like Munster Tulip, Sheep Nose and Irish Peach - great gift idea - also suitable for Acres scheme.