As the festive season fast approaches, the ultimate centrepiece in every home has to be the Christmas tree. A real tree is a perfect choice for those looking for a truly traditional option, providing the perfect place to hang your treasured decorations, create a glittering, twinkling window display and a resting spot for all of your gathered gifts and goodies for loved ones near and far.
Craig Roman, an in-house expert at Dobbies, shares his top tips on choosing and caring for your real tree
Choosing your tree
There are four main types sold in the UK and each has different star-quality merits:
The Nordmann Fir: By far the most popular choice, due in part to its perfect shape, low-needle drop properties and the luxury feel to its glossy soft green needles. If you like to put your tree up early, and for it to still look its best on Christmas day, Nordmann Fir would be a good choice for you.
The Fraser Fir: With its narrower width, the Fraser Fir is perfect if you’re decorating a smaller space. It has a blue-green colour and dense glossy foliage, still with good needle retaining properties – making it ideal for tinsel, lights and a sprinkling of hanging decorations.
The Noble Fir: These are a little bit special and not available in huge numbers, but if you are looking for something a little more luxurious this might be just the ticket. Whorls of blue-tinged needles adorn these gorgeous chunky trees, with nicely spaced foliage; it provides the perfect place for all your baubles and decorations. A homely wicker basket as the stand is ideal. Just be sure to get to the garden centre early.
The Norway Spruce: Heralded as the traditional Christmas tree, it boasts a lovely pyramid shape, dark green foliage and has that classic rich, fresh festive scent. This is the tree we all remember from our childhood, and although the needles will not last as long as some other varieties, it is a good choice for those with cooler rooms, or tend to put their tree up a little later. They also make great display trees for the front garden to welcome your guests over the festive period.
Know how much space you have for branching out
Make sure you know the height of the room you’re putting your tree in to, the labels are just a rough guide. It’s worth bearing in mind that tree stand that you plan to use, as this will add a little extra height to your tree.
Height isn't the only measurement you need to consider, the width can also vary between trees, which is why you should also never buy a Christmas tree ready-wrapped. When a tree is in the netting you don’t know what you’re getting. It could be too wide for your room or too uneven in shape.
All is not lost if you get the height wrong, though. Just trim the trunk and take off some lower branches.
Looking after your cut tree once you get it home
To get the pick of the trees it is wise to make your purchase early, but this does not necessarily mean you have to put it up straight away. Once home, cut off the netting to allow the branches to relax & settle into place, before carefully sawing a couple of inches off the base of the trunk.
Stand your tree straight into a bucket of water, allowing it to drink just like a bunch of fresh flowers and put it to one side in the garden until you are ready to bring it indoors.
When it is time to decorate, make sure the stand holds water to help keep your tree looking fresh throughout the festivities.
Pot grown trees
Over recent years, Christmas Tree growers have perfected the art of growing quality pot-grown trees. Ideal for those with limited space, these lovely trees appeal particularly to children who would love to have a tree of their own or to those of us who traditionally like to buy a tree with roots that can, depending on conditions, be transplanted into the garden after the festivities.
These smaller trees are growing in popularity and include all the most popular Christmas Tree types as well as a few extra special ones, such as Blue Spruce with its azure blue foliage, stunning in a contemporary setting.
They also look great on your doorstep, either side of the front door to welcome your guests, decorated with battery lights and small decorations.
All Pot-grown trees come complete with a festive green or burgundy pot cover to protect your carpet or wooden floors
Dressing your tree
First and foremost, don’t begin decorating until it’s secure in its base. If you do, you’ll find yourself fighting with branches and crawling underneath the foliage.
Once the tree is positioned and you’re happy it isn’t in the way of any pets or little ones, leave it to stand for up to 24 hours so that the branches can settle down.
Think about what you want your tree to say about you before choosing the decorations and then decide what will complement your home. Dobbies has an array of ideas, style and colours, which will make your tree sparkle and look truly spectacular.
Making a few of your own homemade decorations is a lovely way to get children involved in decorating the tree, and will create treasured keepsakes to keep for years to come.
When you’re ready to dress the tree, start by selecting the biggest items from your assortment of decorations and display them on the larger branches, then repeat this winning technique by matching smaller decorations to the more petite branches. On my own trees, I always fix the decorations to the tree with wire, rather than string – this means I can completely control where they sit, rather than rely on where they ‘hang’.
Keeping your tree looking its best
Your Christmas tree is only a short-term visitor, so it is only right to treat it properly. If you opt for a real Christmas tree, make sure it gets enough water. Your tree will need approximately 1-2 litres a day – depending on the temperature of the room.
Remember that if you put your tree close to a fire or radiator, it’s going to dry out – a Nordmann Fir would lose its sheen and look dull-coloured by Christmas Day and a Norway Spruce would simply lose more of its needles. Whilst radiators are easy to spot, also make sure you’re not placing it too close to any Christmas candles. Not only will they dry your tree out, but could present a fire risk.
For more information, visit Dobbies Garden CentresLast modified: December 4, 2017