Starting to feel festive? We have some great tips for caring for your Christmas tree, to ensure yours doesn’t lose it’s twinkle! After all, the image of a Christmas Tree illuminated by twinkling lights, at the centre of a happy domestic scene is a powerful and recognisable image of a ‘traditional’ Christmas.
The custom, which originated in Germany, was introduced into England during the Georgian period. Queen Charlotte, German wife of George III, is known to have had a decorated tree for her family as early as the 1790s, and there is also a record of a tree at a children’s party given by a member of Queen Caroline’s court in 1821. Queen Victoria herself remembered such trees in the 1830s, happily describing potted trees placed on round tables ‘hung with lights and sugar ornaments’.
In 1848, a print showing the Royal couple with their children was published in the Illustrated London News. From this time onwards, the popularity of decorated fir trees spread beyond Royal circles and throughout society.
Trees were generally displayed on tables in pots, with gifts placed unwrapped underneath. The tree was decorated with wax candles, baskets of sweets, flags and little ornaments and gifts. The imported German Springelbaum was the tree of choice until the 1880s, at which time the home-grown Norway Spruce became available. This made a larger tree more affordable, and people began placing trees on the floor.
So – when you have spent good money on a wonderful tree. How do you make sure it stays looking festive and not floppy?
Paul Stone is the Horticultural Team Manager at The Eden Project (www.edenproject.com). He has given us some tips on how to find, look after, and dispose of your Christmas tree this year:
First off – choose the right tree.
If you are going to go for a cut tree, then choose a freshly cut one (or cut one yourself). A freshly cut tree will last a lot longer than one cut weeks ago and shipped to distant retail outlets. Alternately, reduce waste and buy a potted Christmas tree, which you will be able to replant after Christmas – giving it back to nature – or keep in a container and use again the following year.
Choose a tree that looks healthy.
Don’t go for a tree that has a large number of dead or browning needles – these trees are already past their best. Also, it’s a good idea to gently stroke a branch to make sure that the needles are flexible and more importantly, remain on the tree! In the UK, the most common tree types are Norway Spruces, Silver Firs, Nordmann Firs, and Noble Firs.
When you’ve got the tree home it’s important to place it in water as soon as possible- cut the trunk and place in a bucket that is kept full of water. Most species can least 6 to 8 hours after once taken from a water source. If needed, cut trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location with their trunks in water. If you have a potted tree, keep it in a cool room if possible, bring it indoors as late as you can, and do not keep inside for more than 12 days (and if it looks unhappy sooner, then put it back outside).
Choose a space for your tree that is away from major sources of heat e.g. fireplaces, heaters, heat vents. A lower temperature in the room will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
When Christmas is over, if you’ve had a cut tree, it’s important to consider how you will dispose of it. We suggest you recycle your tree – most councils provide this service free of charge, please visit your local authority’s website for more information.