DURING the holiday season, there are few things nicer than a real Christmas tree in your home.
From the beautiful smell of pines to its natural presence, nothing signifies the start of Christmas like the experience of going to pick your tree with family and friends, ready to start the festive celebrations.
While, of course, real trees need a little more tender loving care than artificial trees, they are definitely worth that little bit of extra attention to keep them looking in top shape throughout the festivities.
Once you have picked your perfect tree and are ready to start Christmas in your home, there are some tips you should know on how to care for your tree throughout the festive period.
Firstly, when you’re going to pick out your tree from your local garden centre or Christmas tree farm, ask when the tree was cut. This is because most trees are cut at the same time, so buying it later doesn’t make it fresher.
When you’re picking out your tree, make sure it’s in a cold or open spot and is not stored in a container or area with air conditioning, as this can affect the longevity of the tree.
Once you have selected your real tree and brought it home, the next step is to trim the trunk about a half of an inch from the bottom, this is because the bottom of the trunk will have dried up and won’t absorb the water that well.
Next, put the tree straight into sugar water or 7up, the glucose will help to keep it hydrated and will help keep the needles in place.
Don’t forget to add water to the base of your Christmas tree daily, ensuring it always covers the cut at the bottom of the tree.
Another important factor in prolonging the life of your tree is to keep it as far away from heat sources as possible. Although a beautifully decorated tree right beside a fireplace or stove can glisten and look lovely, the heat will only contribute to drying the tree out at a much quicker pace.
When the time comes to take down your tree, you have a couple of options for disposing of it.
Cork City Council arranges free Christmas tree recycling in a number of parks. You can also use the tree to start a new compost pile in your back garden.
Make sure you do not burn your Christmas tree, this can be very dangerous as the dried needles can burn in a flash, causing a fierce fire. This type of disposable action should be avoided at all costs.
Once you have found the perfect tree, Christmas can also be a great time to explore some DIY gardening by creating your own wreaths and displaying them throughout your home.
Natural wreaths can make for gorgeous wall and door hang decorations and provide a real sense of warmth.
Making your own Christmas wreath is a fun and rewarding craft project, giving you the chance to create something completely unique to decorate your home with.
If you are thinking about creating your own Christmas wreath, the first step is to pick up some Oasis foam rings, or even circular wire from your local garden centre.
Wreaths can be made from all sorts of materials, including natural evergreens, straw, pine cones, foliage and holly, etc.
For a wire wreath, if you take your evergreen foliage and begin to twist it around the metal circle, wrap the stem of the leaves around the metal wire and try to keep the end of the leaves facing outwards. Then tie in place using the twine or gardening wire, and continue around the circle until you have covered the wire in leaves.
Next, depending on how thick the foliage is, you may need to go back around the wire two or three times making sure it’s fully covered.
The next step is to bulk out the wreath, moss works particularly well for this but feel free to use whatever you can find in your garden, the more unique the better.
Finally. to put the finishing touches on your wreath, I would suggest incorporating pine cones or berries for that seasonal touch.
Depending on which type of foliage you have used for your wreath, they would typically tend to last between four and five weeks when hanging outside, and between two and three when displayed inside.
To compliment your beautiful creations, some indoor plants that are a great addition to your home this Christmas are poinsettia, the most well known Christmas plant for its lovely red foliage. Others include the Christmas cactus, holly, Douglas fir, Norway spruce and of course mistletoe.
For more advice on selecting your real Christmas tree or creating your own wreath this season, you can visit us in-store in Carewswood Garden Centre based in the middle of Castlemartyr and we will be delighted to help.
We also have launched our Christmas Hampers for the second year in a row, they are packed full of seasonal Irish goodies and are all sourced locally, making the perfect gift for the foodie in your life.
For more information or to view our opening hours visit www.carewswood.ie.