‘Pot or not?’... and other big Christmas tree questions

Artificial trees are "far more practical with a toddler wanting to pull the decorations (and thus th

Artificial trees are "far more practical with a toddler wanting to pull the decorations (and thus the pine needles) off every five seconds", says Debbie. Picture: Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Wondering whether you should go for a real tree or an artificial option? Columnist Debbie McMorran has opted for one of each.

Debbie loves the smell of a real tree. Picture: Getty

Debbie loves the smell of a real tree. Picture: Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

How many of you have already bought your Christmas tree? I would think by the time most of you are reading this, that you will have either already got your tree decorated, or will be thinking about doing so very soon.

We’ve gone slightly crazy and have two trees this year. One is an artificial tree – far more practical with a toddler wanting to pull the decorations (and thus the pine needles) off every five seconds. But my husband is a stickler for tradition and is adamant that it’s not Christmas unless we have a real tree, with the wonderful scent that comes with it (and all the pine needles to clog up my Hoover....)!

So we have a real tree in a room which has a tiled floor, and the artificial one in the sitting room. I have to admit that there is something fairly nostalgic about the idea of a real tree – it’s not something that we ever had in my family growing up, but my husband and I have always had a real tree, and going to choose one is a nice tradition.

This year it was quite a different experience, with our toddler now old enough to walk amongst the trees and help us choose. I’m not sure that her criteria for a good tree are quite the same as ours might be – my need to have one which will drop as few pine needles as possible, versus her choosing one she likes the look of – both of which come secondary to the important price tag issue.

Artificial trees are the more low maintenance option. Picture: Getty

Artificial trees are the more low maintenance option. Picture: Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Nevertheless, we came home with a tree that we were all pleased with, and following some wrangling into the stand – and then the subsequent purchasing of a different stand that it could actually stand straight in – we were finally able to decorate it.

A day or two later I received a text message from a friend of mine who lives locally and wanted to know where we had got our tree from, and whether they also stocked trees in pots. My friend is incredibly eco-minded, and it was important to her that she would be able to keep the tree either in its pot, and water it throughout the year to reuse, or to be able to plant it out into her garden.

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It got me thinking about the question of ‘pot or not?’ There are definite plus points to buying a real tree which is potted, the main one for us this year being the huge amount less stress when trying to get the tree straight in the inadequate stand that we already had.

I have also found since, that getting underneath the bottom branches to be able to top up the water in the tree stand is not easy, and being able to water into a proper plant pot would have been much easier.

The idea of being able to keep the same tree year in, year out, is one that is becoming far more popular.

As people are wanting to buy a more sustainable option, questions are being asked of our real tree providers: “Are the trees sustainably planted?”, “Will you be replanting trees for every tree cut down?”, and so on.

Buying a tree which is potted and either keeping it pot-bound, and watering it, or planting it out into the garden, gives you the option of being able to reuse the same tree next year, and the year after, until the tree becomes too big to get in through the door!

Some families love the idea of being able to buy a small potted tree when their children are small, and bringing it out every year until the children, and the tree, are fully grown.

It’s something which I love the idea of personally, but might have to give it more thought and be better organised for next year!

For this year, I will have to keep crawling underneath the branches to top up the water, and pray that my Hoover makes it to the New Year!

I hope you all have a very happy Christmas break, and look forward to watching the spring start to peek through in the weeks that follow.

Things to do in the garden in the coming month:

Although you are probably entitled to take some time off gardening in the coming weeks, I find that when the New Year rolls around, it’s hugely energising to get out in the crisp cold and get some fresh air following all of the Christmas excess. Here are a few things that you can be getting on with if you need an excuse to escape the house!

• If you have acers you can prune them before Christmas - this should avoid “bleeding”

• Make sure your frost-protection is still in place if you’ve wrapped up special plants and shrubs

• If you have fences or trellis (or other wooden structures) in your garden, give them an MOT to make sure they’re not rotting through anywhere. This can save a lot of hassle as if they do rot through they could fall on and damage plants.

• Keep feeding the birds; they will be getting very reliant on extra food as it becomes scarce to find for themselves as the weeks get colder.

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