Gardening with James Vaughan: Caring for your Christmas tree

James Vaughan


James Vaughan


Gardening with James Vaughan: Caring for your Christmas tree

If you are like us in our house you will be performing the annual ritual of decorating a Christmas Tree around now. The tradition of bringing an evergreen tree indoors and decorating it actually has royal origins. Queen Victoria of England married a German Prince- Prince Albert- in 1840.

Once in Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria adopted her new husband’s tradition of decorating an evergreen tree and bringing it indoors. It was the height of fashion at the time to follow the trends set by the royal family. And so, the tradition has remained for 180 years.

Christmas trees take around seven years to mature after planting and require pruning and other efforts to get them to a saleable point. A project that we started in our own garden a couple of years ago was to grow our Christmas Trees on our site. We bought them as saplings- around 30cm high each. We planted a mix of spruce, pine and Fir. They are all growing well but are not tall enough yet to bring indoors. We will have to wait for a few more years. As a gardener, I often remind myself of the quote “patience is a virtue of the strong”.

Sitka Spruce

Sitka Spruce is probably the least expensive type of Christmas Tree. It is also the most likely to shed needles. It is among the most grown and the most popular in people’s homes. It gives a nice full and bushy tree.

Scots Pine

Scots Pines are usually a little bit more expensive than spruce but they are less likely to shed their needles. They are not as popular as they once were. They give a nice fresh green look.

Nordmann Fir

When you start talking about Fir trees for Christmas you are going to pay a premium. They really are the best of the best. They prove to be a very stately and graceful tree in any situation.

Caring for you Tree

Once you get your tree home cut one inch off the end. This fresh cut will make it easier for the tree to suck up water. Then into this new end cut an ‘X’ across the end. This, again, increases the ability of the tree to suck up water. Place the tree in a reservoir of water and keep it topped up. This will ensure that the tree holds onto its needles a bit longer. It will also help to keep the tree fresh and looking green.

One final piece of advice. If possible, wear protective gloves at all times when handling a real Christmas tree. This is necessary because the sap from all the trees listed above are extremely sticky. Those of you who have previously experienced this mistake will know what I mean.