Growing A Real, Live Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Will your Christmas Tree be plastic or real this year?

The other week I was up in the Black Isle, learning about the business of growing real trees.

The farm we visited sold around 650,000 trees a year, and was preparing for its late November rush. We were there with the folk from Lidl, and you could see hundreds of trees tagged with the store’s label, ready to be cut and sent out to the various . . . ahem . . . branches.

Nordmann Needles

It’s been a while since I’ve had a real Christmas Tree, but they were a staple in my childhood. I still miss the smell of them in the corner of the living room.

I remember my mum getting a bit annoyed about all the needles dropping, though, so I was fascinated to hear that they’ve worked their way around this these days with a new species of tree – the Nordmann fir.

Apparently, the old-fashioned Norman spruces have needles that attach via a peg, which breaks down after the tree is cut. Thus the needles drop.

But the Nordmann has these clever little ball-and-socket joint needle attachments that stay solid. Hopefully you can see what I mean in the pic below!

nordmann fir

You’d be amazed at the love that goes into making the perfect bushy tree.

Long gone are the days of buying one with a huge gap in one area and a wonky top. The trees are pinched, pruned and teased into beautiful triangular shapes by hand, to make every one just right.

Farm manager Charlie told us that it’s not a plant-them-and-forget-about-it industry at all.

According to him, the same amount of care and attention goes into a Christmas Tree crop as it does into a field of wheat. But they have to wait a decade for the result!

Head down to Lidl and pick up yours now. And don’t forget to read the feature in our huge December 8 bumper issue, on sale December 5.

Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.