Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

The Living Christmas Tree; Green Thumb with Maree Curran

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

The Living Christmas Tree; Green Thumb with Maree Curran

Article excerpt

Christmas preparations are well underway. In our home, we have a rule that the decorations mustn't go up before December, so this weekend will be a flurry of activity as we put up the lights and decorate the tree.

Decorating the tree is a big event, particularly when kids are involved. More and more families are choosing living Christmas trees, which can grow with the family and be a part of the celebration year after year.

For a long-lasting living Christmas tree, it's hard to go past one of our own native species. The ever-popular Norfolk Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is a firm favourite, not just in Australia but also in America and Europe, where large numbers are grown for indoor plants.

Not so well-known, but equally suitable, is the beautiful Daintree Pine (Gymnostoma australianum). A member of the casuarina family, this beautiful small tree is rare and endangered in its native habitat in the forests of far north Queensland. But don't be alarmed a it's not endangered because it's difficult to grow. With delicate fine needle-like foliage and a neat conical habit, it will grow 3-6m in about 10 years. In this area it will probably not grow taller than 4m. The Daintree pine is perfect for pots, native gardens and formal garden styles.

If the idea of a pine doesn't excite, then there a plenty of other options. Grafted Eucalypts are very popular, giving a quintessentially Australian look. They usually flower in November/December. a[approximately]Summer Red' has magnificent bright red flowers, whereas a[approximately]Summer Beauty' is a lovely soft pink. The blossoms are followed by plump gumnuts. The grafted Eucalypts are suitable even for small gardens as they rarely exceed 5m in height.

The NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) is a tall shrub or small tree that gets its common name because it looks so festive around Christmas time. …

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