A Christmas tree – a gift for the whole year

EADT Suffolk - - Inside -

IT has been said that it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar to have a real Christmas tree in­stead of an ar­ti­fi­cial one. Yet one thing that seems to con­cern some peo­ple is that they are cut­ting down a tree. They don’t like the idea of killing some­thing just to have en­joy­ment of it for a few short weeks. I have sym­pa­thy with their point of view. There’s some­thing about trees that in­stils a sense of peace and longevity.

At this time of year my hus­band, Paul, is busy in the field prun­ing the last batch of his Christmas trees. He has nur­tured them since they were bare root ba­bies, un­der a foot tall. Each year he dis­ap­pears out into the field and trims the ma­tur­ing trees into shape. For him, look­ing af­ter his trees is a year round re­spon­si­bil­ity. He plants tiny new trees in Jan­uary, fer­tilises all the trees in Fe­bru­ary, mulches them in spring, cuts the grass around them in late sum­mer and prunes them in the au­tumn. When you think how much time these trees spend with us it’s not sur­pris­ing Paul be­comes at­tached to them.

It is also the won­der­ful en­vi­ron­ment that they cre­ate that we love. As they grow they pro­vide cover for a mul­ti­tude of wildlife, birds, in­sects, grasses and wild­flow­ers. One of our favourite ways to wind down at the end of the day is to walk our dogs around the Christmas trees and have a chat to­gether. I love to see the wild­flow­ers. In late Au­gust, one evening, with­out even look­ing hard we found over 15 va­ri­eties in­clud­ing Toad­flax, Teasel, Poppy and Cen­tu­ary. On a September walk I was treated to a view of a stoat and a spar­row hawk, which im­plies that plenty of small mam­mals are mak­ing the most of the habi­tat on the ground. Paul makes sure that he does not cut down the veg­e­ta­tion un­til he is sure all the ground nest­ing birds have fledged.

Peo­ple who come to choose their tree at Christmas are of­ten shocked when we de­scribe how long it takes for a Christmas tree to grow. It is an ab­so­lute de­light to take chil­dren into the field and make them guess how old a tree is. We like to find one that is the same age as the child and do a height com­par­i­son. We grow sev­eral types of tree. At the moment non-drop trees are the favourites. The best known are the Nord­mann Fir and Blue Spruce. The tra­di­tional trees are the Nor­way Spruce. The non-drop trees are more ex­pen­sive be­cause they are slower grow­ing and re­quire more care – Paul uses se­ca­teurs to hand prune the branches on ev­ery one. In eight years a Nor­way Spruce could grow to 8ft

‘As they grow they pro­vide cover for a mul­ti­tude of wildlife, birds, in­sects, grasses and wild­flow­ers’

but a non-drop tree would only just be 5ft.

The Bri­tish Christmas Tree Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (BCTGA) asks its mem­bers to com­mit to grow­ing trees in ‘an en­vi­ron­men­tal and sus­tain­able man­ner’ and this is some­thing we are pleased to ad­here to. There are sev­eral grow­ers in Suf­folk, in­clud­ing our­selves, so you may wish to con­sider where your tree is com­ing from. If you pre­fer to be or­gan­ised and think ahead for Christmas, some of us even let you choose your tree from the field dur­ing Novem­ber. We cut it down for you on the day you spec­ify, which means it is to­tally fresh. Never mine ‘food miles’, per­haps we should in­tro­duce ‘Christmas tree miles!’ You will be able to guar­an­tee that your tree has not been im­ported or shipped long dis­tances. What’s more Paul likes to quote his favourite statis­tic: “One acre of trees pro­duces enough oxy­gen for 18 peo­ple to breath each day.”

I al­ways say, a tree is for life not just for Christmas. If you choose a real Christmas tree this year you can be proud that it has been part of en­rich­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, as well as be­ing cen­tral to your sea­sonal cel­e­bra­tions.

Paul and Ruth Goudy run Kiln Farm Nurs­ery, Kes­grave. www.kil­n­ Bri­tish Christmas Tree Grow­ers

Blue spruce

Ruth Goudy of Kiln Farm Nurs­ery

Kiln Farm Christmas tree plan­ta­tion with wil­lowherb grow­ing al­most as tall as the trees

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.