Don't get needle over Xmas trees

THE big day is rapidly approaching and it can be one of the biggest decisions you make on the home festive decoration front.

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n It's ho, ho, hoe as Stephen Burns  reveals some  of the trees  suitable for Christmas
n It's ho, ho, hoe as Stephen Burns reveals some of the trees suitable for Christmas

Stephen Burns, supervisor of Glasgow City Council's Land & Environmental Services at Pollok Country Park, talks trees -

WHEN people ask me what type of Christmas tree they should buy, I reply, "A wooden one".

That aside, I do believe a real Christmas tree starts and makes the festive season that bit more special.

There are many different types of trees in this market to choose from; little, large, bushy, thin, and shades of green going all the way through to silvery blues.

More Christmas trees are planted in Britain each year than are felled, so no need to worry about the environmental impact by purchasing a cut tree.

Christmas tree tradition goes back to 16th Century Germany.

This tradition became very popular in the British Isles and throughout the British Empire in Victorian times with the influence of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Consort Albert – a German who was well used to the Christmas tree tradition back in his homeland.

George Square, Glasgow, will have a wonderful Sitka Spruce as its a centre piece tree for the city, with smaller Norway Spruce trees around the crib.

Choice

When selecting your tree take a little time, think of it like fresh flowers – best bought locally and seen. I would not recommend buying through the internet because trees are best seen before purchase.

Pay particular attention firstly to its height. Check your ceiling height as that will allow you to buy the correct scale of tree.

Trees are normally sold at about 2metres (6ft 6in) high, but smaller and taller ones are available if you want them.

When you are happy with the height, test the foliage by checking the needles are tight on to the branching. If they come away then the needles are ready for dropping, which is not good.

Check where the tree has been cut at the base – you should look for a fresh clear clean cut.

Checking the tree list (right), consider not only height but spread because you do not want to be continually barging into it when it is up in the house.

Consider the scent if that is important to you. A stand is a must.

Potted living trees are the most expensive of all, sustainable and environmental friendly.

Of course, when the festive season is over you can put it out in your garden, keeping it in the pot and, with some summer care, you will be able to use it over a few Christmases.

I would not advise planting the tree in your garden after Christmas because these are commercial forest trees and in no time at all can grow into very large specimens.

Care

When you get your tree home unwrap and let it settle upright for at least a few hours. It is even better if you can leave it 24 hours before erecting it in position and decorating.

When positioning your tree, which should be the focal point of the festivities, it is best kept in a cooler spot away from radiators and where people are often likely to be. Watering is also important. Again, think back to freshly cut flowers. Best of all would be to re-cut the original cut with a saw, removing a few centimetres or more.

This will allow the tree to uptake water more readily. Put the tree in a reservoir of water and remember to water it regularly – this will aid in preventing the dreaded needle drop.

Disposal

After the festivities ensure you dispose of your tree responsibly by following your council's guidance on disposal. Most local authorities have a chipping programme where you take your tree and it will be chipped.

Decorations

A favourite of many is a Christmas wreath and there are many retailers who stock these.

Why not try making your own in Pollok Country Park Seasonal Decorations Workshop in the Visitors' Centre Old Stable Courtyard this Sunday at 1.30pm?

You will get professional instruction on how to make your own. All materials are supplied and you take your own away – and it is free.

Tree Types

Nordman Fir: Now one of the biggest selling Christmas trees in Britain and becoming more and more popular due it to its softer foliage, which makes it easier for decoration. It is a more expensive tree because of its slower growing habit. A bushy tree.

Douglas Fir: This has a great scent and holds needles well, making it a bit more expensive. A tree with a more squat bushier habit, so will need more space in your house.

Fraser Fir: Named after Scots botanist John Fraser, this tree has good needle retention and good colour It can suffer a little from resin leak.

Norway Spruce: Again, one of the biggest selling trees and a favourite because of its Christmas scent filling the house. It can suffer a bit from needle drop.

Scots Pine: I would like to think we can all recognise this tree. A more upright habit means it will easily stand in a corner and not take up as much space.

Blue SpruCE: This has a beautiful colour but it can be hard to find. Its other big plus is that it holds its needles better than any other spruce.

There are, of course, many others to choose from to make a great centrepiece for all your festivities.

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