With Christmas trees to pick and winter gardening tasks aplenty stacking up, Byron Lewis, from Lichfield Garden Centre, gives us his top tips for the festive season
Another year has flown by and we’re already at the festive season again! Garden centres across the Midlands will be full of Christmas trees in the coming weeks, and believe it or not there is an art to picking the right Christmas tree.
Firstly consider how much space you have (easier said than done!). Trees come in all shapes and sizes, and some have been trimmed to be ‘slim-line’ with a narrower bottom – choose this type if you’re tight on space.
Then pick your tree variety correctly. The most popular tree type is the Nordman Fir. These are soft-to-touch trees and classed as ‘low needle drop’, meaning with the correct care they will stay looking good right through to New Year. If your tree is to be displayed outside, you can still use Nordmans, or choose Norway Spruce – the Norway has that classic Christmas tree shape, but indoors it can quickly drop needles. These are better suited to the colder conditions outside.
Finally, think about how you will hold your tree. There are many different types of Christmas tree stands available. Make sure you have one that will hold water as, in an average home, your Christmas tree can drink up to three pints of water a day! Most stands have a built-in reservoir and bolts which you can tighten to keep your tree upright. If you already have a tree stand, it’s well worth taking it to the garden centre so you can pick a tree with the right size trunk – otherwise you’ll have to chop and saw the bottom to fit when you get home!
If you want a tree to last for years, you can also buy pot-grown Christmas trees. These can be put indoors, but are far better grown outside – perhaps by your front door or on the patio. If you are putting a pot-grown tree indoors, be sure to keep it watered and away from heat sources, such as radiators. Then after Christmas, acclimatise your tree to the outside conditions by putting it in a garage or porch for a few weeks – or the shock of going from indoors to outside could kill it off!
Meanwhile, there are other jobs to do in the garden in the first part of the winter months. It’s an ideal time to plant many shrubs and roses. Garden centres will be taking delivery of new season stock which can be planted all through the winter – as long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged. By planting now, they have a headstart on the spring, and should get established more quickly.
Fruit trees and bushes, plus ornamental trees like Flowering Cherry and Crab Apples can also be planted through the winter. The best selection is generally available now, and it can be more beneficial to plant these when most other plants are dormant.
There is still time to plant spring flowering bulbs too. Tulips, in particular, are generally planted through November and December as they tend to flower later than daffodils, but whatever you have, get them planted soon. If you don’t have space, but already have the bulbs, plant them into any spare plant pots you have with some multi purpose compost. They can then be dropped into any gaps that appear in your borders.
So Christmas or not, there’s lots of work! Whatever you get up to, have a fun and relaxing time over the next few months. If you’re in Lichfield, pop into Lichfield Garden Centre at Curborough for a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie each weekend in December – that should get you in the festive spirit!