Deck the halls

Manchester Evening News - - FAMILY TIME - ■ FOR more tips on choos­ing alternativ­e festive fo­liage see friend­soft­heearth.uk/trees

WE’VE been spot­ting Christmas dec­o­ra­tions in the win­dows around town for a cou­ple of weeks now.

But when the huge count­down to Christmas tree ap­pears in the su­per­mar­ket foyer, you know things are about to go crazy.

People have been fill­ing their homes with green­ery for cen­turies – a re­minder that nature is still alive even at the bleak­est time of year.

Christmas trees have been a quin­tes­sen­tial part of the festive season since Vic­to­rian times when they were made fash­ion­able by Queen Vic­to­ria and her hus­band Prince Al­bert. Some of the first dec­o­ra­tions were real flame wax can­dles, or­na­ments and small gifts.

Tree species such as spruce and pine are the typ­i­cal options for real trees nowa­days. Our own fake tree is a fam­ily heirloom – it is look­ing a bit thread­bare but I’ve never liked the idea of a tree be­ing chopped down just for Christmas.

Plenty of my friends go for pot­ted trees, which can ben­e­fit the planet, too. Emi Mur­phy, trees cam­paigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Buy­ing a pot­ted tree with roots lets you grow it out­side and use it again year af­ter year, re­duc­ing its en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and cost­ing you less. A liv­ing tree will also carry on ab­sorb­ing car­bon from the at­mos­phere for years to come.”

If you would like some liv­ing green­ery this year, here are a few plants that are ideal for adding some Christmas spirit both in­side and out­side your home.

HOLLY

WHEN it comes to winter colour, Holly def­i­nitely wears the crown. It’s spiky, so if you’re wor­ried about chil­dren or pets you could take some cut­tings to use as dec­o­ra­tions in­stead of mov­ing a whole pot­ted shrub in­doors.

IVY

IVY can be found in all shades of green and even yel­low.

A dark green va­ri­ety can make a beau­ti­ful ad­di­tion to a Christmas dis­play.

Grow it in a small pot or take some cut­tings if you have a larger plant out­side.

BAY

IF you’re feel­ing cre­ative, bay shrubs can be pruned into stun­ning for­mal shapes over time. You can also use the leaves (fresh or dried) in cook­ing – in­clud­ing your Christmas Day gravy.

YUCCA

LARGE in­door plants such as yucca trees are per­fect for bring­ing nature into your life and it is fun to make them look festive.

Try your lo­cal florist for some plant-friendly dec­o­ra­tions, or make your own.

...with boughs of Holly

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