With Christmas fast approaching, here are some facts, figures and advice on Christmas tree care.
HOW MANY TREES ARE SOLD EACH YEAR?
The British Christmas Tree Growers Association estimates around 6-8 million trees are bought each year.
WILL PRICES BE THE SAME AS LAST YEAR?
Harry Brightwell, secretary of the BCTGA said: “We expect prices to be very similar to last year. Prices do vary across the country.”
HOW OLD IS A TYPICAL FULL HEIGHT TREE FOR THE HOME AND WHAT CARE GOES INTO IT THROUGHOUT THE GROWING STAGES?
A typical 6 to 7 feet high Christmas tree is between 10 and 12 years old. Seed is collected from trees either in the wild or in specially selected seed orchards, sown in a nursery where the seedlings then grow for three to four years. The young plants are then planted by a grower and grown on for a further seven to nine years.
The grower must fertilise, shape and prune the tree, and keep it healthy, ready for the customer to enjoy.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT WHO STOCKS A TREE IN MY AREA?
If you visit our retailers page, you will be able to access a list of BCTGA members within a radius of your home. It’s always a good idea to ring a couple to get a sense of price and varieties they sell.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES THAT ARE AVAILABLE IN THE UK?
The most popular varieties are:
• Nordmann Fir - dark green foliage and soft leaves, with good needle retention
• Norway Spruce – often regarded as the traditional tree, it is usually a tidy pyramid shape with a typical Christmas tree smell.
• Blue Spruce - elegant with natural blue foliage.
• Fraser Fir - leaner in shape with much denser foliage and a lovely balsam fragrance.
Some growers will have other varieties available which can also look great in your home.
WHICH IS THE MOST POPULAR VARIETY?
BCTGA estimate about 80% of the trees sold are Nordmann Fir around 10-15% Norway Spruce, and the remainder are lesser known varieties.
WHY SHOULD I BUY FROM A BCTGA MEMBER? WHY BRITISH?
All BCTGA members are asked to comply with a code of practice so that British Christmas trees are grown to the best environmental and sustainable practice. Members aim to grow quality Christmas trees that with the appropriate care will survive the duration of the festivities.
We ask people to look for a British grown tree because it is good for the economy, for agriculture and for the environment. Buying British means money is going directly back into the country’s economy and helping provide employment in the agricultural sector. It’s also good for the environment providing shelter for birds and wildlife while the trees are growing.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY TREE IS A BCTGA GROWN TREE?
Ask your supplier where the tree has been grown.
REAL OR ARTIFICIAL?
Help protect the environment and save planet earth.
Many of our members sell cut trees and pot grown trees, both of which are better for the environment than artificial trees.
The bulk of plastic trees are imported, probably from China, enlarging their carbon footprint.
The Carbon Trust states:
"A real pine or fir tree naturally absorbs CO2 and releases oxygen.”
“The Carbon Trust estimates that a 2-metre artificial tree has a carbon footprint around 40kg CO2e, ... more than ten times that of real trees that are burnt.”
Artificial trees end up in landfills where they can remain for hundreds of years. If disposed of correctly, real trees can be virtually carbon neutral.
HOW DO I KNOW I’M CHOOSING A FRESH TREE?
A fresh tree will have a healthy green appearance with few browning needles. Needles should be flexible and not fall off if you run a branch through your hand. Raise the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the butt end. Very few green needles should drop off the tree but it is normal for a few inner brown needles to drop off.
HOW DO I KEEP MY TREE AT ITS BEST?
When the tree is brought home, it is advantageous if about half an inch is cut off the butt in order to open up the pores of the tree. The tree should be kept outside in a cool shaded place, standing in water, until it is required indoors. When the tree is brought indoors, mount it in a water-holding stand and place it away from direct heat, such as a radiator. Keep the container topped up with water every day; you will be surprised how much the tree drinks.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY TREE AFTER CHRISTMAS?
If disposed off correctly, a real tree can be virtually carbon neutral. After Christmas, they can be recycled, burnt or temporarily used in the garden as a habitat for wildlife. Some councils also offer a removal service after Christmas so check your local authority website for guidance.
HOW LONG HAS THE BCTGA NATIONAL COMPETITION TAKEN PLACE?
2019 is the 21st year of the competition.
WHEN WILL THE WINNER BE CHOSEN AND WHAT DO THEY WIN?
This year the competition took place on Wednesday 30 October. Stuart Kirkup of Dartmoor Christmas Trees was awarded the title of “Christmas Tree Grower of the Year” and Toby Ryley of Friezeland Farm Christmas Trees created the “Champion Festive Wreath”. Open to Association members, each tree and wreath entered is assessed and judged by fellow growers, with the winners traditionally being granted the honour of delivering an 18’ 6” tree to stand outside No. 10 Downing Street and a wreath to hang on the famous door.
1. Every year since 1947, the tree in London’s Trafalgar Square has been a gift from the city of Oslo, Norway.
2. In a 2004 survey of the nation’s favourite smells, real Christmas trees came eighth just behind the sea but ahead of perfume.
3. Manufactured Christmas tree ornaments were first sold by Woolworths in 1880.
4. Even before the time of Christ, evergreen trees were seen in winter as a symbol of fertility.
5. The 16thcentury monk, Martin Luther, is credited with the idea of lights on Christmas trees by adding candles to his tree to look like stars in a forest.
6. England’s first Christmas tree was brought to Windsor by Charlotte, wife of George III, in 1800...
7. ...but it was the trees brought in the 1840s by Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, that led to their popularity throughout the UK.
8. The first use of the term ‘Christmas tree’ in English was in 1835.
9. The world's tallest Xmas tree at 221ft high was erected in a Washington shopping mall in 1950.