O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer’s here,
But also when ’tis cold and drear.
Christmas Trees are the best and worst tradition. I don’t know about you but for years I spent hours agonizing over where every single bauble should go, what colour scheme to do, tinsel or no tinsel. Then after I’d finished I’d stand back, take stock and cry because after so many painful hours it still didn’t look like a department store tree. Now days I just let the kids go wild with it. If it doesn’t look perfect I can just think ‘oh well, the kids had a ball doing it’.
While watching the kids decorate the tree I began to wonder why we even have Christmas trees and why they are always depicted as Evergreens or Conifers. The answer is in the song.
Evergreens or as we know them conifers are green all the time – thy leaves are so unchanging. Christmas in the northern hemisphere occurs during the bleakest days of the year so evergreens present a vibrant contrast to the natural world outside – Not only green when summer’s here, But also when ’tis cold and drear.
Because of this, people throughout history have regarded them as special symbols of eternal life or rebirth.
I found many theories of why we decorate our trees at Christmas time. My favourite was that the tree was decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption).
So I may not be able to decorate the tree perfectly but how do I choose the perfect Christmas tree?
Christmas trees are different for everyone.
Conifers are everyone’s first choice when it comes live Christmas trees and there are so many different types and sizes to choose from there is sure to be one to suit everyone. If you want a different type of live Christmas tree here’s a few hints.
My ultimate live Christmas tree would be Magnolia ‘Little Gem’. This beautiful magnolia is evergreen; looks brilliant in a pot, can be bought inside for a short period of time but will thrive on a patio or in the ground in sun or shade. Has lush dark green foliage with a bronzed underside of the leaf. Its branches are strong enough to hold a bauble and its flowers are a beautiful cream colour and enormous.
There are so many great native Christmas trees.
Syzyigums would be my first go to as a great native Christmas tree. Trevallan’s large Syzyigums (around 8m high) are in full bloom at the moment and it looks like they are covered in little fairy lights and the ground under them is covered in snow (the fallen flowers).
Syzyigum ‘Cascade’ would be a nice smaller growing Christmas tree. This beautiful native grows to about 4 meters high and has a lovely weeping habit. Its dark lush green foliage is offset by its brilliant pink new growth and pink pom pom flowers, which the honey eaters love, followed by pink edible berries, for the berry eating birds. It can easily be grown in a pot or the ground.
If a smaller tree is required Acmena smithii ‘Allyns Magic’ is a fantastic native. Perfect for pots and loves full sun or part shade. It is always a dark lush green with bright red new growth. You can even trim it to a conical shape to better represent a Christmas tree!
If you are after something a little different than I have two native trees that are going to make even the die hard plastic tree lovers wanting to change over!
First up is the Casuarina glauca ‘Greenwave’. This hardy evergreen shrub forms a natural ball shape with long thin branches that would make you think it’s a conifer. It holds it shape without the need to trim and looks amazing in pots or the garden. It only grows to about 2m high and loves the full sun.
Adenanthos have taken the southern market by storm and we are finally catching up. These beautiful soft silvery foliage plants love the full sun and dry conditions. They do get a small redish flower on them in spring. Silver Silk only gets to about 1.2m high so its perfect for a large pot.
With all real Christmas trees water well. The most common cause of death is under watering because we don’t want to wet our floors or the presents! Maybe buy an extra-large saucer or a planter to sit your tree in (a pot that doesn’t have a hole and is meant to retain water). Don’t keep your tree inside for months and when you finally do take it back outside move it into the sun slowly. Put it in a shady spot for a week or two, then to a part shady spot then out to full sun. Once it’s back outside give it a good fertilise with organic link slow release organic fertiliser and a liquid fertilise fortnightly with Plant care until it is acclimatised to the outside conditions. Don’t forget a good long soak would be appreciated by your tree, just to say thank you!
This year why not buy a REAL Christmas tree. Just remember chose a plant that will bring you and your family years of joy and let the kids do the decorating while you sit back and enjoy a candy cane …. In your Christmas cocktail!