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Trafalgar Square Tree

It’s that time of year again.

The Christmas tree lights at Trafalgar Square are due to be lit on
December 3rd, 2015 at 6pm.

Trafalgar Square Tree

When the Oxford street lights are switched on you know that Christmas is just around the corner. For the past 56 years, the lights have become a traditional fixture for this infamous shopping street.
Having been a good couple of weeks since their switch on it will soon be time to turn on the tree lights at Trafalgar Square. But it isn’t any old tree that sits in Trafalgar Square. The tree is a Norwegian Spruce, is usually 70ft high and has been growing for anything between 40-60 years. The tradition goes that the tree lights are lit on the first Thursday in December and remain lit until January 6th on the following year. The tree is always a Norwegian Spruce and is a gift from the citizens of Oslo. It is a thank you to the people of Britain for their assistance during WWII. This tradition began in 1947.

What is the best Christmas tree?

I know it sounds a bit of a cop out but this is really down to personal taste and how long you want the tree to last.
The traditional British Christmas tree is the Norwegian Spruce and is much loved due to its amazing scent. The downside is that the tree quickly drops its needles once it is cut down. This might prove to be a problem if you are planning to decorate the tree with family heirlooms. Needless to say, you wouldn’t want to see your priceless baubles sliding off needleless branches now would you? So dress with caution. It is also a tree with a wider base and might not sit comfortably in a small room.
If you are looking for a tree that is narrower than the above, doesn’t drop its needles so quickly and you aren’t too concerned about aroma, then the Nordmann Fir is a good choice. Although you will pay nearly double the price for this tree. It has a conical shape and has dark green needles. It is a very good-looking tree.
The number one choice of Christmas tree in the States is the Fraser Fir. Its appeal being that it has a similar form to the Norwegian Spruce but doesn’t drop its needles as quickly. It does have a slight scent but not as notable as the Norwegian Spruce. It also might not be an option for you if you like a traditional straight leader. Fraser Firs tend to be a little bit expressive when it comes to supporting the Christmas angel and this might be a deal breaker for those where symmetry is essential.
The Noble fir has needles that tend to tilt upwards and are a very attractive grey-green colour. The branches are very sturdy and especially suitable for those who like to adorn their tree with weighty trinkets. This might be the preferred option if safeguarding the family antiquities is at the top of your list.
Another option on the festive tree repertoire is the Douglas Fir. Like the Fraser, it has a narrower base, so is ideal for a smaller room. It has light green needles that carry a unique scent of citrus and is relatively good at retaining needles.

There are other variations out there but these are the top 5 presently parading on the growers’ lists.
Many growers also offer pot grown trees that can be planted out in the garden after the season comes to an end. Thus, avoiding adding to the carnage of discarded, unloved, tree skeletons that line the sides of the streets when everyone has had their wicked way with them.
Do give careful consideration when choosing a pot grown variety. Hate to state the obvious but trees have a tendency to grow and before you know it, your cute little miniature will be towering above your roofline.

Where can I buy a good quality Christmas tree?

It is always best to buy a tree that has been freshly cut and has not been hanging around. A good starting point would be to visit the British Christmas Tree Growers Association website They have a comprehensive list of certified growers. We recommend, Christmas Forset for London and our personal favourite is the Rougham Estate in Suffolk. Blackthorpe Barn has a very friendly atmosphere and I guarantee a visit will put you in the Christmas spirit. If you are looking to have your tree delivered don’t rule out by distance. Scottish Christmas Trees deliver to the UK and were awarded Best Living Christmas Tree award 2009 by the BCTGA.

Blackthorpe Barn - Suffolk

Caring for my Christmas tree.

Remember, if you want a tree to last, look it over very closely. There are a few tricks to help you decide just how fresh your tree is. The first thing to do is cast your eye over the tree and ask yourself whether the tree looks dry. Do the branches look brittle? If they do, this is not a good start. Next, hold the tree by its leader and give it a gentle shake. A good way to do this is just lift it a few inches off the ground and give it a couple of taps on the ground. If the tree drops its outer needles without much of a fight, it’s probably not going to last the week never mind Christmas.

Once you are satisfied with your choice of tree there are few simple care instructions to follow if you want to get the best from your purchase. If you aren’t planning on putting up your tree straight away ideally it should be left in a cool shady spot outside and preferably in a bucket of water.
When it is time to bring it indoors, lop off about ½ an inch from the stump so that the pores of the tree open up.Your tree can be supported using a purpose built tree stand with water reservoir.
Alternatively you can place your tree in a bucket and support it by using small stones or screwed up pieces of newspaper. Whichever option you choose make sure you place you tree as far away from direct heat as possible and replenish the water supply daily.

You are now ready to get decorating.

Priory Road APL award winning garden 2014

Investing in your outdoor space – can you afford not to?

Making the most of your garden.
Why you should invest in your outdoor space.
Or: Investing in your outdoor space – can you afford not to?

There are many hidden benefits to having your garden professionally designed and built.
Homeowners are often very hesitant to spend money transforming their outdoor space but if they were making money in doing so, would they approach their gardens in a different way?
Well, according to the estate agent Marsh and Parsons, outdoor space in London is a tradable commodity with a price tag of £ 897 – £1,925 per square foot.
In London, having a beautiful garden to retreat to, could add anywhere between 12 – 25% to the value of your house.

Priory Road APL award winning garden 2014
Not all homes in London have outdoor space and properties that do, tend to attract more attention and are often easier to sell. Marsh & Parsons CEO Peter Rollings said:
“Vendors have long been aware of how much value traditional home improvements such as a new kitchen or bathroom can add to a property and this research may just persuade them to covert flat roofs or balconies into habitable outdoor oases.”
Besides adding value to your property there are other welcome benefits for investing in your garden.
Having access to outdoor space and nature has a positive and beneficial effect on our health and general wellbeing.
Plants and wildlife are tonics for our stressful urban lifestyles.
According to Science America, “A study published in 1984 in the journal Science by environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich which used strict experimental controls, demonstrated that gazing out onto a garden can sometimes speed up healing after surgery, infection and illness. Patients with bedside windows looking out onto leafy trees healed, on average, a day faster, needed significantly less pain medication and had fewer postsurgical complications than patients who instead saw a brick wall.”
Research suggests that just three to five minutes spent looking at views dominated by trees, flowers or water can begin to reduce anger, anxiety and pain and to induce relaxation.
Creating an outside utopia appears to be a win win situation that begs the question, “Can we afford not to make the most of our outdoor space?”
Planting Design - Wildwood Road