CHRISTMAS officially begins at Downing Street on Monday afternoon, when the tree outside Number 10 will be lit for the first time this season.
For certain members of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, this is the ultimate acknowledgement of their expertise – having won the honour of handing trees and a wreath to the official Prime Minister’s residence.
Back in October, the Association staged its annual competition to find the best trees and wreaths from the membership of growers. From those, three growers will now attend the lights-on event on Monday, having produced a wreath and tree for outside Number 10, and another tree for inside.
Colin Griffith, from Dinmore Hill Trees at Festive Farm in Wellington, Hereford, won the overall contest and is responsible for the large tree which will be seen in Downing Street itself.
Making it a double-victory for the county of Hereford, Champion Wreath category went in the favour of Brian Taylor – of Allensmore Nurseries in Hereford. His wreath will now feature on the door of Number 10.
The runner up prize in the Champion Tree category was presented to Swansea grower Rob Morgan, of Gower Fresh Christmas Trees. He is providing the tree for the Pillared Room of Number 10.
Over 100 growers took part in this year’s national competition, with prizes awarded by John Howell, Conservative MP for Henley.
The event saw hopeful contenders – who span in age from 18 to 80 – come together to showcase their trees to expert growers, and be judged by fellow members.
Each farmer, who spends around 10 years nurturing the tree to full ‘competition’ height, is able to enter categories including Best Nordman, Best Other Fir, Best Pine, Best Norway Spruce, Best Other Spruce, Best Container Grown, and Best Festive Wreath.
Finalists were permitted to submit only one tree into each category, and trees entered must be commercially cultivated and be 1.8 metres ( +/- 400mms) high from base to tip. Each is judged for foliage, colour, shape and marketability.
Harry Brightwell, secretary of the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association, said: “We were thrilled with the standard of entries this year, and with the huge effort put in by such a large number of growers.
“We look forward to the winning members of the BCTGA being able to take part in such a special event on Monday.”