The tradition of the decorated indoor tree has been around for centuries now, though it is widely acknowledged that its origin was Germany. In the 16th Century, Martin Luther is credited with bringing inside the first evergreen tree and decorating it with candles, when he was recounting a story to his children.
Over the years, the Christmas Tree became a very popular feature in German homes and its passage across the channel to England is said to have been influenced by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who were illustrated in a London newspaper, standing alongside their Christmas Tree in 1846.
The Christmas Tree custom hasn't developed entirely without controversy though - in New England, USA when the Puritans banned Christmas, one minister apparently caused terrible trouble by allowing a tree to be brought into the church.
Buying your Christmas Tree
Essentially, you have three choices of modern tree, an artificial tree, one freshly grown in a pot or one freshly grown and cut. Artificial trees have come on leaps and bounds since they were invented and come in all shapes, sizes and materials. It was once thought to be more environmentally friendly to have an artificial tree, but now, with reputable and properly managed plantations and post Christmas tree re-cycling, this is less of an issue. Nothing can beat a real tree for the lovely fresh fragrance it brings to your home and the natural style it lends to Christmas decorations.
The main types of tree are spruce, pine and fir, each with their own characteristics. Spruce trees are usually the cheapest type, but are more prone to shedding needles, so if needle retention is important to you, stick to the pine or fir varieties. A good Scottish Pine or Nordman Fir will see you through Christmas and into the New Year, without the pest of constant vacuuming of needles. Pine trees tend to be tall and slim, so are great for those who have limited space but high ceilings. Firs on the other hand, tend to be much bushier and will usually need a bigger footprint of room space.
Gardening Express have a great choice of hand picked and freshly harvested trees and tree stands and will deliver right up to 22nd December.
Whatever you choose it is important to buy from a reputable supplier so that you are sure of getting a freshly cut tree and not one that has been lopped and stored in a warehouse for three weeks before you buy it. The longer the tree has been cut, the quicker it will drop needles - it is a live product after all and will naturally deteriorate over a couple of weeks.
Whatever type of tree you buy, you can keep it looking bright and fresh all Christmas if you follow some simple procedures to care for it. If you buy your tree a few days before you plan to decorate it, always store it outside to keep it cool. When you are ready to bring it in, saw off a few inches of the trunk to reveal new wood, which will take up water more readily. When inside, use a Christmas Tree stand that has a water reservoir and keep it regularly topped up with water. A large healthy Christmas Tree can use up to 2 litres of water a day, but this will decrease as it gets older. Finally, remember to try and place your tree away from radiators, otherwise the drying out process will be accelerated causing needles to lose their gloss and spring much sooner.
Remember, chose a nice fresh tree and give it a bit of TLC!>