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Garden Club: How a real Christmas tree can really make the festive period sing

A real Christmas tree brings both festive spirit and the beauty of nature into the house, writes Cambridge garden designer Robert Barker

When it comes to the Christmas season, I find it a time for picking sides.

Depending on your disposition, you either find yourself on the ‘Bah Humbug’ side or the ‘Joy To The World’ side. There doesn’t really seem to be an in between.

Deciding which side to be on is either a choice consciously made or one that’s made for you, depending on what’s going on around you. No matter the side I am on, though, I can’t help but feel the Christmas spirit warming up my soul when carrying out the annual ritual of picking out a tree.

Choosing a real Christmas tree, stock shot (22096467)
Choosing a real Christmas tree, stock shot (22096467)

I find it fascinating that, during a time of year when there is very little to enjoy in our gardens, this is the month when we focus most on the importance of bringing nature into our homes. Like no other time of year, we value the importance of decorating our homes with Christmas trees, holly wreaths, poinsettias and mistletoe. These items aren’t just bought: time and energy is usually invested into selecting just the right tree or plant and it is decorated with pride. This is such a lovely tradition.

Another tradition I love is the way most of us all gather around a huge Christmas tree in our villages and towns to watch the lights being turned on, the tree turning into a symbol of community spirit. If only we gave even a fraction of the same amount of attention on a local tree that is an actual living thing, instead of a tree that has been chopped down and is decomposing as we stare in wonder (there’s my ‘Bah Humbug’ side creeping out).

Bringing nature into our homes is an amazing thing, but the part I struggle to understand is why this isn’t something carried out throughout the year? We invest so much in plant decorations that will stay alive until New Year’s Day if we are lucky, but when picking something to stay alive in our gardens for generations to come we don’t pick out a tree or shrub with the whole family, making sure it is just the right plant, then gather round it when it comes into full bloom; instead, on the whole, we buy something on a whim or because it is reduced in price.

So this festive season, I am not asking you to pick a side: instead I would like to encourage you to try to extend the thought that plants and trees need celebrating all year round. Wherever you may be, may your gardens be weed-free and a Merry Christmas to you all.

See robertbarkerdesign.com for more.

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