Every year Christmas is kicked off by the purchase of the family Christmas tree and it can be a tough choice getting a good one.
To help you along the way we have enlisted the people who provide trees for Royalty to give top tips on selecting the perfect tree.
Sam and Josh Lyle, grandsons of the sugar magnates, set up Pines and Needles when they were 14, flogging trees grown on a patch of farmland in the Highlands outside a dry cleaners in Maida Vale.
Two decades later they’re planting more than 60,000 trees a year and hoping to break through the £3m barrier, selling to everyone from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the members of One Direction to Downing Street.
With two plantations now in Scotland growing their firs and more than 25 stores across London and the South East they sell to Liam Gallagher, Dermot O’Leary, Vernon Kay, Claudia Winkleman, Salman Rushdie, Emilia Fox and Paul Weller.
Here the brothers give their tips on how to pick the perfect Christmas tree and how to look after it.
1) It’s all in the colour – needles should be dark green on a Nordmann Fir and, if you look closely, it has a signature two tone colouring. Don’t just go for height and bushiness!
2) If you run your hand down a branch of a Nordmann Fir tree at the end of November or beginning of December it should retain most of its needles. Too many and it’s one to leave behind.
3) Check that it is freshly cut – all Pines and Needles trees are cut at the farm then freshly cut again prior to delivery from our hub or stores, enabling them to soak up the water you put them in. Others may not be, so keep an eye out!
4) The classic Norway Spruce tree is much lighter than its fir counterpart and has a more uniform shape. But it should boast that intense ‘Christmas tree smell’, so if yours doesn’t then leave it alone.
5) Have a rummage….if you can’t find one in the shape and size you want then don’t settle for second best. The tree is the centrepiece of your celebrations so go somewhere else, even if that means trailing unhappy kids in your wake.
6) From forest to living room is a big change. You’d need looking after too. That’s why we recommend using water-holding stands to prolong the trees look and life!
7) If your home limits you to a pot-grown fir, we advise transferring into another container or plant pot to take care of the roots and allow watering with ease.
And here is how to install you carefully chosen tree…
Just before you install your tree, saw off the bottom 1” (3cm) of the trunk.
This creates a fresh cut and opens up the pores in the bark, which otherwise can block up with sap within a few hours of being cut.
The tree is then able to drink water through these pores via capillary action. We do this to all our trees so you don’t have to.
Do not expose your tree to sudden changes in temperature. Trees like most people are creatures of habit and prefer steady conditions.
Position your Christmas tree away from any heat sources such as radiators and fireplaces. Heat dries out your tree faster, so the further from potentially damaging heat sources the better, and the fresher your tree will remain.
Place your tree in plain water – not soil or sand which would block the pores in the bark.
This is best achieved by using a specially designed Christmas tree stand.
Many precious hours can be wasted trying to make a Christmas Tree stand up straight in an ordinary bucket using just bricks or stones!
Keep the Christmas tree stand topped up with water.
Your Christmas tree may drink 2-3 pints (1-2 litres) of water per day, depending on its size and your central heating settings.
This is very important as once the water level drops below the tree’s trunk, sap will re-seal the bark within a few hours, preventing the tree from drinking any further water even if you then re-fill the Christmas tree stand.
Be Aware that these trees are natural living things, and once they are cut they begin to die, sad as this is apart from artificial trees we are still without a solution to this simple fact of life.
Time the arrival of your tree with this in mind to increase longevity and get the most out of it.
Now to decorate…
Sam Lyle gives tips for the perfect Christmas tree this year.
When decorating your tree it is all about textures and layering no matter which theme you choose.
Decide on which of your decorations you would like to be featured most prominently and place those first (those tend to be the largest or most detailed) and then use those as a basis to dress your tree around using your most small simple decks as ‘fillers’.
Introduced by Prince Albert in Queen Victoria’s era, the Christmas tree has become quite the tradition in the royal households, and no doubt this year, they will be sticking to their traditional regal look.
No doubt this year the royal household will have a substantially large tree full of tradition and decadence. Rich in style and texture but remaining effortlessly stylish at the same time.
Think deep red velvets, gold glass and silk ribbons hanging delicately. Detailed ornaments like small gold cherubs or some hanging crystal cut teardrops at the edges of the Sumptuous branches. These will compliment the larger glass red and gold baubles complete with many, many warm white lights.
Inspired by rich reds and golds, the classic British festive look is bound to bring cultural heritage into your home.
Pick classic red and gold baubles, traditional Victorian inspired decorations and crown shaped decorations to achieve the ultimate Royal look.
This year, Nordic is a big trend. The Scandinavians are kings of Christmas style with effortless elegance at the heart of decorating.
For a full Nordic look opt for copper tones, geometric shapes. Embrace wooden decorations, snowflakes and delicately cut masterpieces.
Always opt for plain white fairy lights for the ultimate Nordic look.
Keeping your decorations white, cool and sophisticated is going to be a big trend this year. An elegant way to add festive cheer into your home without dreaming of a white Christmas.
Decorations should be kept white with an injection of silver so add sophistication.
Glass decorations are always a welcomed addition to the crisp look.
This season, making old look new and bringing vintage back to life will be a big hit.
Whether that is embracing 70’s kitsch or a Victorian bauble.
For more information visit – www.pinesandneedles.com