Christmas trees

by James Alexander-Sinclair

Last year we made a momentous decision. After many years of buying real Christmas trees to decorate our home over the festive period, we decided to buy a fake one.

jas_treeLast year we made a momentous decision. After many years of buying real Christmas trees to decorate our home over the festive period, we decided to buy a fake one.

Previously we had endless scenarios like this:

"Are you going to get the tree?"

"Of course"

A few days would pass.

"When are you going to get the tree?"

"Very soon, I promise"

Then, after a few more days I would be driving along and suddenly remember.

"Oh Hell, I forgot the tree."

There would be much rushing around trying to find the right size, the right shape and then a lot of swearing as somehow this thing was roped onto the top of my car and hauled back home. Even then all was not yet rosy - on one occasion a closer inspection of the tree revealed that there were far fewer branches on one side so we junked it and my quest began again.

There's a lot of debate over which is greener. To make an artificial tree involves a fair bit of plastic and it's obviously not compostable. But the harvest and transportation of real trees uses a lot of fuel. Artificial trees will last forever, whereas real trees need replacing every year. Fake trees don't drop needles or cause allergies (both my wife and daughter break out in a rash if they touch real trees).

Real trees absorb carbon dioxide during their eight or so years in the field. However, they're also often treated with pesticides, which can run off into water courses. Real trees can easily be chipped and composted, and when an artificial tree finally falls apart it will have to go into landfill. So many dilemmas.

I toyed with the idea of buying a living tree, with roots, but I didn't want it in the garden. If we had put it out of sight then it would have remained un-watered and would have died a miserable and lonely death. However, it is probably the greenest option, provided the poor thing spends no more than about a week in your centrally heated home (unless it is this sort of living tree, in which case it would probably be happy on your sofa for months).

In the end, for us, the fake one seemed the most sensible option. We made sure that it was good quality so that it will last for many years. Maybe we should have been a bit more avant-garde and bought one like these. I like the book one very much although the upside down idea is frankly ridiculous.

At least they'll be no more pre-Christmas, tree-related domestic incidents.

Happy Christmas one and all.

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Gardeners' World Web User 29/12/2008 at 21:05

We bought our fake Christmas tree about 15 years ago and no longer feel guilty about destroying a real tree just for 10 days or so every year! I feel it very hypocritical that on one hand we are doing our best to save the environment.......... except at Christmas time. Buy fake and burn a pine flavoured candle for effect and let the forests live! We're in Australia.... dont worry , our weather is as crazy as yours! Santa just wears thinner undies!

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:37

I bought a small potted tree this year instead of my usual huge as possible cut tree. People seem to be giving more thought to the 'green issues' around tree options, which is really good. Got mine at a very knocked down price just before Christmas and just after being laid up with flu and couldn't be bothered to fuss around. Plan to keep it in a large pot in the garden for the foreseeable future and have been giving it tlc - it's in a cool end of the room by the window, so here's hoping.