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National Trust for Scotland Gardens Adviser Ann Steele

December 16th 2015

‘Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree’

The German Christmas carol ‘O Tannenbaum’ (‘Oh Chrismas Tree’) speaks of the pleasure we get from our festive trees – and no artificial tree is ever a patch on the smell and texture of the real thing.

Writes National Trust for Scotland Gardens Adviser Ann Steele:

“Lots of people are already firm fans, but if you haven’t had a real tree for a while, things have moved on – with a bit of care and by making the right choice, your fresh tree can last the whole festive season without that dreaded shower of pointy needles, and some can even be planted out into the garden for another year! “With a report that it takes 20 years for the carbon footprint of a real tree to equal that of an artificial one, and further environmental benefits – the tree plantations are a home for many years to a wide range of wildlife and the cut trees can usually be recycled locally when no longer wanted, why not make your home extra Christmassy this year? Both Falkland Palace and Robert Burns Birthplace Museum will be selling trees, so a purchase from them will also help support our conservation work.

“First – the choice of tree. Fraser Firs are what is called a low needle drop tree. They are generally quite narrow in shape and so are well-suited to smaller spaces. They have the advantage of dense soft foliage that is easy for the whole family to decorate and as a bonus they sometimes have a Christmassy scent. The branch where the star or fairy goes is sometime a bit squint, but that makes yours unique!

“Nordmann Firs are now the most popular Christmas Trees in the country – mostly because they have a beautiful shape with strong well-spaced branches that allow you to make the most of your decorations. They are quite wide in shape so need a fair bit of space. Again this is a low needle drop tree, although it will still shed a few. The needles are not sharp however so it is also good for the whole family to decorate. “The Norway Spruce is the traditional Christmas Tree. Generally less expensive, it is less well-suited to being indoors in the warm and tends to shed a lot of spiky needles unless handled correctly.

“To care for your cut tree, treat it in a similar way to any cut flower or foliage by keeping it somewhere cool and sheltered and by sitting the base in a container with water. When you are ready to put the tree up, first bang the base on the ground to shed any old needles, then bring it inside, cut 1-2cm off the base and transfer the base of the tree to a stand that can hold water. Once the tree is in the correct location – away from direct heat such as any fire, radiator or warm lighting – remove the netting. Your tree will need 1-5 litres of water to drink every day to stay in top condition and must not be allowed to dry out.

“Potted trees should be kept outside until you are ready to decorate them – the less time they are indoors the better they will look afterwards. As with cut trees, they must be kept away from direct sources of heat and must be watered regularly to stop them drying out. After Christmas they can be planted out in the garden, or re-potted into a larger pot. Make sure they are put in a sheltered spot or garage for a while to give them time to acclimatise! Your potted or planted tree will benefit from feeding during the growing season.

“Where to buy your real Christmas Trees

Falkland Palace, Cupar, Fife. Blue Spruce, Fraser Fir, Nordmann Fir and Serbian Spruce potted trees are already at the shop and are looking really good.

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. All trees are Nordmann fir and will be on sale from 28 November to Christmas Eve. Saturday and Sunday 10.30am – 5.00pm and Tuesday through Friday 1.00pm till 5.00pm. Funds to go towards the restoration and development of the Burns Monument