Why you should get a real Christmas tree from Suffolk this festive period
PUBLISHED: 10:26 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:05 11 January 2018
More and more people are abandoning artifical and Ruth Goudy of Kiln Farm Nursery tells us why that can be a good thing for animal life, the environment and for your own sense of wellbeing
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.
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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 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.