Needle work; gardening.
SO, WHAT Christmas tree are you going to buy this year? The most popular, the Nordmann fir, is likely to be more expensive than in previous years, growers are warning.
About 8.5m trees are sold in this country every Christmas, of which half are Nordmann firs (Abies nordmanniana).
Imports of the popular tree, which is grown in Denmark, have dropped because a ruling by the European Union to scrap subsidies has put many growers out of business.
"Numbers of Nordmanns imported from Denmark have fallen from 1.5m last year to 500,000 this year.
"We grow them increasingly over here but they take about 10 years to grow to a saleable size," says Roger Hay, secretary of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association.
"Expect to pay between pounds 30 and pounds 40 for a 6-7ft Nordmann," says Hay.
They will still be available in garden centres and major retailers, but it will be the smaller outlets which are likely to have reduced supplies, he says.
"As a result, some of the other trees have come into the frame to replace them, such as Scots pine or Lodgepole pine. They are super trees and the best holders of needles.
"They are very bushy and the needles are in clumps but they have a great smell, a good shape, and don't take up any more room than a Nordmann."
Always choose a tree 2ft shorter than your room height to allowfor a stand and the fairy on the top.
Hay prefers the Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) which is narrower than other trees and thereforemore suitable for smaller rooms.
He says it may be worth buying your tree on the internet.
"Look for growers who are situated in an isolated place away from urban centres. They are less likely to get a big retail market and you may get a better deal and a better tree from them."
The BCTGA website lists growers nationwide, county by county.
"If people choose to go to any of the growers on the site, and then have problems with their tree once they've got it home, such as all the needles fall off or it's just too big or small for the room, these growers will take a tree back within three days and replace it," says Hay.
Shoppers should not worry for too long, though, as more home-grown Nordmanns will be coming on to the market in years to come, he says.
Cut trees should be fresh when purchased. The needles should not be dull and dried up and the branches should not be brittle.
The outer needles should not fall off if the tree is gently shaken.
After you have bought your tree, it should be kept outside in a cool shaded place, preferably standing in water, until it is required indoors.
Before bringing the tree indoors, cut about half an inch off the trunk to open up the pores and mount it in a waterholding stand.
Keep the container topped up with water.
FOR more information, go to bctga.co.uk
Smaller outlets are likely to have reduced supplies
The perfect Christmas tree is a joy to behold
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Dec 8, 2007|
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