Christmas Trees
Julie Parker
My interest in gardening & wildlife stemmed from childhood days spent working in the garden with my parents & reading books on anything from robins to giraffes. As time has moved on these influences have stayed with me inspiring the creation my own garden & leading to interests in fish keeping & the natural world around me. I still love to read & hope that the knowledge I gain will make topical reading through these articles.

From Seed To Christmas Tree

We buy our Christmas trees from Needlefresh which represents a group of growers who supply their trees directly to us, keeping them in the freshest possible condition. By using the unique tree number on the label you can even trace your tree & find out where it was grown. A lot of time & energy goes into producing top quality Christmas trees & every tree has a story that starts many years before it reaches your living room.

See our range of top quality, fresh Christmas Trees which can be delivered to your door for Christmas

In order to make sure that the Christmas tree you buy is as pleasing as possible the seed from which the tree is grown is specially selected from trees that exhibit all the right characteristics for a Christmas tree. The “mother” trees need to have a nice conical shape, with evenly spaced branches and full foliage. The seed is always collected from the trees by hand with pickers often scaling trees to pick the cones. The cones are then left in a cool dry place to dry out and once they are dry they will easily shed their seeds

Tree seed can be quite difficult to sprout as it is naturally designed to lay dormant on the Forest floor for many years before bursting into life. Seeds are often soaked in water then chilled before being planted in warm soil to encourage growth. The seedling is left to grow in the nursery bed for 1 to 2 years, which is enough time for it to develop a good healthy root structure which is the key to vigorous growth.

Once it has reached this stage the small seedling is carefully dug up with its roots intact and replanted in a line of seedlings at a spacing of 5cms to allow it enough space to grow into a small tree.

Our baby tree is now big enough to face the world, and can be dug up, placed into special bags and transported to the fields where it will grow on into a Christmas tree. Remember the tree has already reached 4 years old when it reaches its final growing place. The tree farmer can now start the seasonal work of turning this baby tree into a full sized Christmas tree.

To give it every chance of surviving, the grower needs to protect the tree against pests and disease as well as a host of animals that like to graze on its foliage including rabbits and deer. To ensure that everything can live in harmony, the grower fences his trees; this is a very expensive process, the fencing needs to be at least 2 metres high & dug deep into the ground to prevent deer & rabbits getting in. The tree also has to compete against pests & weeds which need to be controlled whilst ensuring that the thousands of insects and bird species that inhabit the plantations are not harmed.

After the tree has been growing here for about 3 years the grower starts its annual pruning which ensures that it is uniform and grows into a well shaped tree. Fertilizer is applied if the tree lacks nutrients, and the bottom branches are removed to form a handle, which means the tree can be fitted into a stand once it is cut.

It is a further 3 to 4 years before it is time to start harvesting for Christmas. Not all the trees are cut at the same time, firstly the trees are thinned to leave enough space for the remaining trees to grow on into bigger trees. Only the best of the small trees are removed from the field leaving at least half to grow on. Often a field is harvested over 3 to 4 years before it is cleared. In that way all the different sizes of trees are harvested, from 1 metre to 2.5 metres. Occasionally trees are left to grow on into trees used for large display purposes; they can be left in place for up to 20 years. This is a very expensive thing to do, as each tree still needs attention each year which takes longer as the tree grows bigger.

Once the tree is cut it needs to be left lying in the field for up to 3 days before it is put into a net to be transported to the retailer. This allows the tree to stop transpiring otherwise it can heat up in the netting. Nearly all Christmas trees are now packed onto pallets for transporting, making the handling easier and keeping the tree clean. Finally the tree is loaded onto a lorry to be delivered to the retailer where the tree needs to be stood upright awaiting its selection.

Now it is your turn! Cut Christmas trees are like cut flowers; to keep them fresh they need water. Use a water holding stand & if you replenish the water daily, the tree is likely to remain fresh all the way through the festive period & less likely to drop its needles. Remember your tree has been growing for about 12 years since it was a seed and has had quite a journey to reach your home, so do everything you can to keep it as fresh as possible until it has helped you celebrate Christmas right through to the New Year!