Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Gardens: Christmas Trees for All Budgets

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Gardens: Christmas Trees for All Budgets

Article excerpt

THIS credit-crunch Christmas, you may need to rethink what tree to buy. The price of the popular non-drop Nordmann fir, imported from Denmark, is likely to be higher than ever this year, thanks to the pound's weak performance against the euro and the Danish krone.

The British Christmas Tree Growers Association is advising hard-pressed families to opt for different varieties or smaller trees to save money, and buy as close as possible to source. Expect to pay between pounds 30 and pounds 45 for a 6ft Nordmann. Association secretary Roger Hay is advising those on a tight budget to go for a home-grown Scots pine or Lodgepole pine, which should be widely available and are likely to cost around pounds 10 less than the same size of Nordmann fir.

"These trees don't drop their needles and are bushier and have much fuller branches than the Nordmann," he says. "You might even get cones on them." They also have a strong fragrance.

Before buying your tree, measure the space you are allocating it indoors, considering both height and spread to ensure a good fit. And leave it till the last minute to buy a tree, particularly if you are opting for a spruce, which will drop its needles quicker than other types.

Once you have chosen the type of tree you want, the next question is, should you buy a cut tree, a container-grown one or a potted one?

Which? Gardening, the Consumers' Association magazine, tested cut, container-grown and potted Nordmann fir and Norway spruce last year as soon as they arrived in the garden centres in late November.

Researchers kept them in the office and watered and monitored them regularly for needle drop. After three weeks they tipped the potted and container-grown trees out and examined what roots they had.

They found that the potted trees looked dull and lifeless after three weeks and the Norway spruce had lost most of its needles. Potted (containerised) trees are often planted in containers too small for the tree, making them difficult to water and look after, the magazine warns, and advises they are best avoided.

Container-grown Christmas trees, which have spent their lives in a pot and are the most expensive option, performed best overall in the trial, looking healthy right to the end. …

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