Gardening Magazine

The Christmas Ritual - Selecting My Tree

By Notcuttsuk @notcuttsuk

The Christmas ritual - selecting my treeI do not like to think about Christmas too much before the start of December. Many people are a lot more organised than me and will have bought presents and decided on color schemes for the tree and Christmas table long before December begins. I find that I enjoy Christmas month much more if I have cleared tasks in the garden through November. This leaves me free to enjoy the build up to Christmas and have a break from the garden and allotment except for harvesting vegetables and trimming some evergreens for decorations through the house.

Christmas begins in our house when we go to Notcutts to purchase the tree. It has to be a live tree and although we sometimes buy a needle fast Fraser Fir this year I am set on a traditional Norway Spruce. Yes it will drop some needles, especially as the wood burning stove will be lit for much of the time, but I will trade the frequent use of the hoover for the welcoming scent of pine each time we come into the house or downstairs in the morning. A tradition of ours is to always have the tree lights on through the day when we are in the house and make them the last lights turned off at night – there is something magical about a Christmas tree lit up in an otherwise dark room.  We have our new cat, Oscar now, and he is settling in well but very lively, so it will be interesting to see if he can resist the temptation to play with the tree decorations!

I like to buy the tree early in the month when there is plenty of choice, before the rush of the final two weekends in front of Christmas. We always spend a good half an hour looking at trees to make sure they are the perfect shape and height for the room and I usually hold them up with a gentle tap to get the branches to fall outwards, while Mrs McGregor casts her eye over them. The selection will be narrowed down to three or four and they are held up again and twirled around slowly to establish the front and back of the tree, as it usually goes in a corner or to the side of a sofa. Once the tree has been chosen, we ask a member of staff to net it up for us before taking it home.

The first job on getting the tree home is take a 3cm slice off the base to get rid of the piece of trunk which will be clogged with sap, preventing the tree from taking up water. The tree may have been cut, but it will still drink water like fresh flowers. I usually find a pair of gardening gloves for this job to stop my hands being covered in sticky pine resin!

The tree is then left in its netting and placed in a bucket of water in the garden shed until it is bought into the house and decorated on the weekend before Christmas.  

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