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Ode to the Christmas Tree.
There's nothing quite like a real tree for the ultimate Christmas atmosphere. The sight; the scent; the effect. Real trees seem to cast better shadows; they hold the lights and decorations with rather more individual charm; they fill the house with aroma and they arouse the senses. But which variety might you buy; how should you look after it; and what about the dangers?
- The Norway Spruce is considered to be the traditional tree. It's the cheapest and the most widely available. It does have a tendency to drop its needles, hence it has been somewhat usurped in the popularity stakes by the non-drop varieties.
- The non-drop Blue Spruce is a popular choice and it has an attractive blue hue.
- Then there is the Douglas Fir which holds its needles well;
- The Balsam Fir also keeps its needles.
- The best-selling non-drop Christmas tree is the Nordmann Fir.
Whichever tree you choose, you then have to decide whether to buy a cut tree; a containerised tree; dig your own; or buy one that has actually been grown in a container. Which lasts the longest? In theory one that has been grown in a container will live forever, provided you water it well. You could plant it out in the garden after the festivities are over. But if you live in an urban area and you have a small garden don't! Your Christmas tree can grow to a height of more than 25m and you will rue the day!
large container. Much larger than you imagine. You can't hope to get all the roots but might get enough to allow the tree to live. Watering is key to survival. Containerised trees such as these have generally had their roots cut severely and they don't normally stand much chance of surviving into adulthood. These are baby trees, after all!If you dig up your own you will need a
Most people plump for a cut tree and these are the ones that tend to drop those spiky needles all over your pristine floor. Before purchase do the fresh test! Grasp a branch and run your fingers along the needles. It shouldn't lose many if it's fresh. The same applies to shaking the tree and bouncing it on the cut stem.
Cut trees behave pretty much like cut flowers and need water. Similar to flowers they do best if you cut a small amount off the bottom of the stem before plunging them into water. Some Christmas tree stands hold water and these should be topped up regularly. If you are placing your tree into a container of sand or earth, the contents should be damp, if not wet. And don't be tempted to shave your trunk in order to fit it into a stand. The outer layers of the stem are those that suck up the water and your whittling will hasten its demise. Keep the tree away from radiators and fireplaces as they will dry out your tree and speed up the needle-dropping syndrome.
Let there be light! Who doesn't love fairy lights? Those twinkling, cheerful colours really brighten up gloomy days and nights and they are truly good for the soul.
However, it's important not to overload your electrical circuits! Masses of lights look gorgeous but a house engulfed with flames doesn't! Older 240V mains fairy lights are potential killers. When bulbs blow, the rest of the bulbs take increased voltage and can get hot. There's not only a risk of electrocution but also of fire. A Christmas tree is a potential fire hazard and even more so as it dries out during the festive period.