Care For Your Real Christmas Tree

 

Care of your Real Cut Christmas Tree



Once you receive your Christmas Tree you want to ensure it stays beautiful throughout the festive period. Therefore, please consider the following points;

  • When you receive your tree, keep it in a bucket of water outside until you are ready to take it indoors.
  • We advise if possible that you remove the bottom 2cm from the base of the truck. This will remove any sap that may have sealed the base allowing the tree to drink more water.
  • Before taking indoors, bang the netted tree on it's trunk to remove any old, loose needles that may be trapped. These are perfectly normal.
  • Put your tree in the stand before removing the netting. It's much easier to handle.
  • Position your tree, if possible keep your tree away from direct sources of heat such as radiators. Keeping your tree cool will increase its longevity. Once in position you can remove the net.
  • Your tree will drink up to 2 pints of water per day. A water holding stand will increase the lifespan of the tree. If you choose a stand that is not designed to water the tree, Please be aware it will dry out much quicker.
  • Remember, treat your tree the way you would a bunch of cut flowers.
  • Your tree is a living product and responds to being cared for correctly.
Care of your Real Living Christmas Tree



When you receive your living Christmas Tree, You need to decide if you want to take it indoors or if it will remain outside. Either way it can be decorated and enjoyed by all. 



Outdoors;

  • If the tree is being kept outside, it can be planted into the ground or a larger container. It is best to do so before the end of February while the tree is still dormant.
  • Your tree will begin to grown during the Spring, if possible feed it with some ordinary plant fertilizer at this stage to help growth and colour.
  • During the warm months, check your tree regularly for aphid and treat with a bug gun as you would a rose.



Indoors;

  • If you are taking your living Christmas Tree indoors, place it away from direct sources of heat.
  • Water your tree regularly to keep the soil moist.
  • After Christmas, do not place the tree straight into the garden. The shock of the extreme temperature changes will stress your tree.
  • Place the tree in a cool area such as a garage where it will be protected from frost and will have chance to acclimatise. The tree can then be planted out before the Spring.

Choosing A Christmas Tree

 

When deciding to purchase a real Christmas Tree, there are several varieties available on the market and it is important to know the positives and negative of each one so you can make an informed choice and enjoy the tree you choose.

 

Nordman Fir
The Nordman Fir (abies nordmanniana) is currently the most popular variety of Christmas Tree sold in the UK and across Europe. It has long, glossy, deep green needles that are soft and flexible to the touch. The natural growth habit is a bushy tree that can be as wide as it is tall. However, modern pruning techniques are seeing the shape of this tree contantly evolving so that premium trees are now full of foliage and more uniform in shape with a narrower overall width. This variety does not have a strong fragrance, but it has excellent needle retention properties making it an ideal choice for an indoor Christmas Tree.

 

Norway Spruce
The Norway Spruce (abies picea) is the traditional Christmas Tree. This is the variety most of us grew up with and have memories of finding needles long after the tree has been discarded. This variety is relatively easy to grow commercially but is not as profitable due to their limited popularity. Therefore it is not always easy to find good quality. The Norway Spruce has short, thin, non glossy needles that are quite sharp to the touch. They also have very poor needle retention when taken indoors. However, they have the traditional Christmas Tree smell that many people know and love. Not the best choice if you have small children or pets, these trees are however ideal for use outdoors where the needle retention is not effected. You will often see large examples of these trees in you local town centres during the Christmas period.

 

Fraser Fir
The Fraser Fir (abies fraserii) is one of the more recent additions to the UK Christmas Tree market. However, these are the main variety of choice in America and a good Fraser is a beautiful tree. The problem currently in the UK is that the Fraser is not an easy tree to grow and the quality is not always easy to find. Having said that, a number of growers have, over recent years perfected their techniques and the overall quality is now on the increase. Unfortunately, planting of this variety are not high and therefore it is not likely to be a widely available as the nordman in the foreseeable future. The Fraser fir has a dense upright growth habit with blue green, glossy, soft needles that are silver on the underside. The needle retention is very good and it has a lovely citrus aroma. This variety is naturally slim in habit and is ideal for smaller spaces.

 

Noble Fir
The Noble Fir (abies noblis) is often referred to as the King of Christmas Trees. Soft, deep green needles, with a wonderful citrus aroma and fantastic needle retention. Unfortunately, this variety is not easy to grow. Therefore, many growers will not plant this variety and of those that do, many do not make the premium quality grade. If you can find a good one, give a go, you will not be disappointed.

 

Scots / Lodgepole Pine
The Lodgepole Pine (pinus contorta) and the Scots Pine (pinus sylvestris) offer an alternative to the traditional Fir and Spruce varieties. If you have found you have a allergy to the firs, try a pine, people tell us they are a great alternative. The pine varieties have very long soft needles and are more open in the centre of the tree. You either love or hate them!

Christmas Trees In The 20th Century

 

After Queen Victoria died, the country went into mourning, and the tree somehow died with her for a while in many homes. People looked for simpler options and the artifical Christmas tree began to establish. These had originally been invented in Germany and were seen at the time as the environmental option. The principle of sustainable plantations and the problems surrounding the use of oil were not recognised at this time.
Germany had been the centre of all things Christmas, but after 1918, because of licensing and export problems, Germany was not able to export its decorations easily. The market was quickly taken up by Japan and America, especially in Christmas Tree lights.
Britain's Tom Smith Cracker Company which has exported Christmas goods for over three decades, began to manufacture trees themselves for a short while.
During the war, Christmas Trees were not permitted to be cut down and people wanted to protect their special decorations in safe metal boxes rather than risk them in an air raid. However, large trees were erected in public places to give moral to the people at this time.
Postwar Britain saw a revival of nostalgia again. People needed the security of Christmas, which is so unchanging in a changing world, as one of the symbols to set them back on their feet. Trees were as large as people could afford. The popular decorations were all produced by a British manufacturer, Swanbrand. and sold by FW Woolworth in Britain. Translucent plastic lock together shapes, Honeycomb paper Angels, 'glow-in the -dark icicles; also Polish glass balls and birds.
The mid-1960's saw another change. A new world was on the horizon, and modernist ideas were everywhere. Silver aluminium trees were imported from America. The 'Silver Pine' tree, patented in the 1950's, was designed to have a revolving light source under it, with coloured gelatine 'windows, which allowed the light to shine in different shades as it revolved under the tree. No decorations were needed for this tree.
Decorations became sparse. Glass balls and lametta created an 'elegant' modern tree. Of course, many families ignored fashion and carried on putting their own well loved decorations on their trees!
America made a return to Victorian nostalgia in the 1970's, and it was a good decade later that Britain followed the fashion. At first this was a refreshing look, and manufacturers realising the potential created more and more fantastic decorations. Some American companies specialised in antique replicas, actually finding the original makers in Europe to recreate wonderful glass ornaments, real silver tinsels and pressed foil 'Dresdens'.
Real Christmas Trees were popular, but many housewives preferred the convenience of the authentic looking artificial trees which were being manufactured. If your room was big enough, you could have a 14 foot artificial Spruce right there in your living room, without a single dropped needle – and so good that it fooled everyone at first glance. There are even pine scented sprays to put on the tree for that 'real tree smell'!
The new millennium has seen another shift in the Christmas tree story. More and more people have moved back to real trees. The combinations of newly recognised environmental benefits and low drop needle varieties have seen people once again enjoying the spirit of a real Christmas Tree.

The ECO Friendly Christmas Tree Option

 

As environmental issues become an ever increasing concern for individuals and companies alike, your choice of Christmas tree is a simple way of adding to your contribution.
Some people believe that cutting a tree down to put in the home for a few weeks is not environmentally sound. The truth is actually completely contrary to this. Christmas Trees are grown as a sustainable crop especially for the market. For every tree that is cut down, another is planted, in some cases, two are planted. The trees are cared for and 'farmed' over a period of several years that it takes for them to be ready for market. This usually provides employment in the local area. In addition, Christmas Trees can also often be grown on land that is unable to produce any other crop.
Like all plant life, Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Every acre of growing Christmas trees can produce enough oxygen for 18 people. They are also biodegradable and offer a number of recycling opportunities.
The alternative artificial trees are produced from petroleum and as production is usually in the Far East they have a large carbon footprint by just arriving in the country. Furthermore, many of them are not recyclable and last forever in landfill sites.
The ultimate environmental choice is to buy a living pot grown Christmas Tree that can be planted following the festive season. This will then continue to grow rewarding you each year with additional growth on which to add more outdoor lights enhancing the festive spirit.
All the Christmas Trees we offer are grown by ourselves, or by our growing partners within the UK, in managed, sustainable plantations. Furthermore, if you wish we can pick your tree up and recycle it back at the farm.

The History Of Christmas Trees

 

History of the Christmas Tree
You may wonder how the concept of a decorated Christmas tree came about? There are many elements throughout history that have contributed to the history of this festive essential.
In the 7th century a monk Devon, went to Germany teaching the Word of God. He did great work there and legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God's Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity. The rebirth of the upside-down Christmas tree seen in the last couple of years reflects this part of history.
The first decorated tree was in Latvia, in 1510. In the early 16th century, Martin Luther was walking home through the woods on a beautiful clear night. He gazed at the sky in a moment of meditation and the smell of the surrounding pine trees reminded him of incense and the peaceful whisper of the wind reminded him of prayer. From where he stood it was as if thousands of stars had settled on the braches of these trees. He is said to have taken a small tree home and decorated it with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night. The glittering Christmas Tree became a tradition for his family at Christmas time.

 

Tinsel
Tinsel was invented in Germany around 1610. At that time real silver was used, and machines were invented which pulled the silver out into the wafer thin strips for tinsel. Silver was durable, but tarnished quickly, especially with candlelight. Attempts were made to use a mixture of lead and tin, but this was heavy and tended to break under its own weight so was not so practical. So silver was used for tinsel right up to the mid-20th century.

 

Christmas Markets
In the mid 16th century, Christmas markets were set up in German towns, to provide everything from gifts, food and more practical things such as a knife grinder to sharpen the knife to carve the Christmas Goose! At these fairs, bakers made shaped gingerbreads and wax ornaments for people to buy as souvenirs of the fair, and take home to hang on their Christmas Trees.
The best record we have is that of a visitor to Strasbourg in 1601. He records a tree decorated with "wafers and golden sugar-twists (Barleysugar) and paper flowers of all colours". The early trees were biblically symbolic of the Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden. The many food items were symbols of Plenty, the flowers, originally only red (for Knowledge) and White (for Innocence).
German markets are still popular Christmas Traditions today along with the concept of candy canes as a traditional Christmas tree decoration.

 

Christmas Trees in England
Much of the Christmas tree history is routed in Baltic Europe. As such the idea did not really take off in England until the reign of Queen Victoria. In 1846 Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were illustrated in the news standing with their children around a Christmas Tree. Victoria was a very popular monarch, and what was done at Court immediately became fashionable – not only in Britain, but in America too. The English Christmas Tree had arrived!

Buying A Christmas Tree Online

 

There are many websites available to buy a Christmas tree from. When choosing where to order, make sure you first ensure the website gives a full trading address and contact details as well as a set of terms and conditions. Failure to offer these could suggest the website is not trustworthy.
The nature of Christmas trees is that they are all unique and as such cannot be compared in the same way as standard products such as DVDs or books. There are many different standards of tree in relation to quality. The best trees cost the most money. Genuine retailers will all be about the same price for top quality trees. Is a tree seems cheap, it will be lower quality. This may not matter to your decision as long as you are aware that you get what you pay for. Some internet shoppers are motivated by price, others by quality and convenience.
Buy from a member of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association who is also a grower. These suppliers will know the most about what they are selling you. Most growers do not grow all varieties, but they tend to work closely with other like minded growers to ensure the quality is maintained.
When you order your tree, you are generally preordering a product that will arrive at the specified time. Don't be afraid to contact the company and discuss any concerns or issues you may have.
If you need your Christmas Tree for a particular date, ensure you order for delivery in advance. Trees purchased on line are delivered by couriers and Christmas is a busy time. Deliver delays are possible.
Expect to pay approximately £10 for your tree to be delivered. This may sometimes be wholly or partially included in the price if the retailer chooses this method.
Always check your tree for damage before signing from the courier. Most websites are unable to claim for damage if the item is signed as received in good condition. This may affect the service you receive.
If you are specific about how you want your tree to look, beware that your idea of a perfect tree will differ from that of other people. When ordering online, remember someone else is going to choose you tree.

Everyone is getting ready for the Christmas build up.

Well it’s a beautiful, autumn morning and Andrew has a full day ahead of him drilling wheat for next year’s arable harvest. However, before that, he has been busy cutting a tree down early this morning. This fabulous Norway Spruce measures in at over 8ft and is being sent out today to become a media star!! This Christmas tree is going to appear in the Christmas advertising campaign for Waitrose. We can’t wait to see it all dressed up in its ‘Sunday best’.
Here at The Christmas Tree Farm, we pride ourselves on sending out beautiful Christmas Trees to all our customers and our ability to provide trees all year round has brought us a good following in media circles. Those of you who have been with us for a long time will be aware that we have supplied trees in the past for many big names, including Morrisons, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, The White Company, Annabel Karmen, Ministry of Sound and Doctor Who.
If you are looking for a Christmas Tree either in or out of season, please give us a call. We are happy to help. You can also follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/TheChristmasTreeFarm and Twitter @TCTF to make sure you get all the latest news from the farm. This is particularly good for customers who may want trees in the summer period when they are growing as it allows you to keep up to date with their growth stage to ensure you time your photo shoots for when the trees are at their best.
For all our regular followers, may I apologise for the lack of posts in the last few weeks, it has been an extremely busy time for us and we have been visiting all our plantations to ensure that the trees are looking as we want them to as we prepare for the build up to Christmas.
On a positive note I have lots of pictures to share with you over the coming weeks, if you have any pictures of your decorated trees from Christmas you would like to share with us, please email them over. It would be great to see where the trees end up and what they look like dressed up.
And the shop is now open!

Introducing our charity of choice for 2013, ‘Heart Link Glenfield’

Introducing our charity of choice for 2013 – Heart-Link – Glenfield
As most of you know, each year we choose a charity to support both from The Christmas Tree Farm and Billingley Christmas Trees Ltd.  This year we have chosen a small, special charity called Heart Link which is based in Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.  You can read more at their website https://www.heartlink-glenfield.org.uk/
If you are wondering why we have chosen this charity, then let me explain:
It all stems from a special little girl called Amelia Rose
Amelia  is 2 years old and lives in Doncaster with her parents and her little brother Max who is 1.  She was born with Downs Syndrome and a heart problem.  She is a beautiful, happy little girl and her mummy is a good friend of ours.
Ameila went into hospital in September for major heart surgery.  The surgery was not as successful as they’d hoped and Amelia has remained in Glenfield hospital since and undergone many further surgical procedures, including more major heart surgery.  She is currently fighting for her life, and what a little fighter she is proving to be by getting this far.
Whilst Amelia is in hospital, her parents are having to travel backwards and forwards from Doncaster in turn as Max needs looking after at home.  The costs of travel and parking are an extra worry at an already horrendous time.  This charity helps families in this situation and in honour of Amelia we have chosen to support it this year.
If this story touches your heart as you think of you own children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, then we have set up a special promotion code HEART.  Enter this at the checkout when ordering your Christmas trees online and we will donate to Heart-Link.
We will also be collecting for the charity in the retail site at Billingley.  Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter @TCTF where we will keep you upt to date with Amelia’s progress as well  as the usual info about Christmas Trees.

Christmas Trees make the News in Summer

This week has seen the local Newspaper, the Barnsley Chronicle, taking an interest in what happens on the Christmas Tree Farm during the summer months.  As well as our long distance customers, The Christmas Tree Farm at Billingley has captured the imagination of the local people who enjoy the experience of being able to come up and choose their tree during the festive period.  This truly is a great way to start Christmas, the festive atmosphere, the family of reindeer, the plantations of Nordman Firs and Norway Spruce surrounding the retail site – which for 11 months of the year acts as a grain store – there is nothing better, and the kids love it too!
Our local newspapers and radio stations have also taken a welcome interest in our development since day one. They are secure in the knowledge that there is always some news for a festive story at Christmas, however, they have this year also acknowledged that work goes on all year round and have come to visit us to see what happens during the summer months.  This is great publicity for us of course, but also helps customers to understand what goes into growing a great Christmas Tree.
You’d be surprised how many people have no idea that it takes so long and so much work to get a Christmas Tree to the right shape and size for the public demand. 
The paper has also taken an interest in the local council’s proposals to take half of the land we farm on a long term tenancy to change it from green belt to an industrial estate.  Not quite sure where that will leave us, but it isn’t going to have a positive impact!  That issue however, is completely out of our hands…….
So on a more positive note, please enjoy reading the exerts from the paper and know that we are dedicated to growing fabulous Christmas Trees to help make your Christmas special.

Combine takes over Christmas Trees

 I said  I’d keep you up to date with the other things we were doing apart from Christmas Tree work.  Well this time of year is completely hectic with the cereal harvest.  Here at The Christmas Tree Farm in Billingley, we farm approximately 1000 acres, made up of the main farmstead on a long term tenancy and then several hundred acres on short term tenancies or on contract farming agreements.
The majority of land is assigned to arable farming where we concentrate primarily on wheat and oilseed rape with some barley and occasionally some beans.  When the crops are ready to be harvested, there is a short window of opportunity to combine the crop and store the grain, before the crop starts to deteriorate.  As farmers, we are at the mercy of the weather and crops can only be harvested at the appropriate moisture levels.  That means each crop has a sample of grain tested for moisture content before the combine will begin its work.  Any rain increases the moisture levels and makes the straw hard to cut.  Therefore the crop can only be harvested when it is dry.  Furthermore, timeliness of harvest ensures that the crop for the following year can be established in the ground at the optimum time.  As you can see, this is a high pressure time of year.
Andrew will spend 9 to 10 hours each day on the combine and weekends do not exist.  From an eight o’clock start on the farm, he does not finish his day until approximately 9pm, although this varies and can be earlier or later dependant on the season and the weather forecast.  He likens it to a 9 hour flight each day, not even stopping for lunch on most days.  Needless to say, this is not his favourite time of year, although the children love it, taking dad drinks and eats down to the combine and hopefully getting chance to have a sit in the passenger seat!  I must confess to also having a soft spot for harvest, the smell of the wheat and straw stirs up childhood memories for me, however cooking dinner at 9.30 at night is not always something I relish.
The attached pictures show our combine in action from outside and from within, looking through the windscreen, when harvesting oilseed rape – for oil to cook your chips in!