There’s nothing quite like putting up the Christmas tree…unless you have a couple of hundred of them, of course!
We have taken delivery of our shipment from Hole Park in Cranbrook (along with some of our home-grown trees) and are currently putting 200 of them out along the Christmas Trail and in the Grotto, as well as a further 50 in the castle, the restaurant and the offices.
Our trees are all cut specimens and come without root balls but, as they have to last until after Christmas itself, we make sure there’s a reservoir of water for them all. We are lucky in the main that most of our trees will be displayed outdoors, so they look fantastic for a long period of time.
Leave it outside
If you’re going for a cut tree this year then the best tip I can give you is to leave it outside for as long as you possibly can. If you are buying a tree with a root ball then the same rule applies: I know of people who leave them outside in their pot until Christmas Eve and only bring them in hours before Santa is due to arrive!
If you want to buy a pot-grown tree then make sure you choose one with a really healthy root ball that’s been wrapped in burlap. It’s even more important to keep your tree well-watered while it’s indoors, so it doesn’t dry out.
Keep it cool
Find the tree somewhere cool indoors – beside your patio door is a better spot than beside the fire! Make sure you get the tree outside as soon after Christmas as possible. The shorter its stay indoors, the shorter its odds are of surviving outdoors. You might want to gently acclimatise your tree if it’s coming straight out of your centrally heated lounge, so pop it in the garage for 24 hours before you plant it in the frosty garden.
If you can cut into the earth at this time of year, it’s better to plant the tree, but you can always leave it in its pot on the patio as long as you remember to water it regularly.
Grow your own
If you’re really keen to ‘grow your own’ then you could try growing from seeds. It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree to six feet, but in some sheltered areas the growing time can be half that.
Christmas is actually a really exciting time for us gardeners at Hever – it’s great to seeing the visitors explore the gardens under the twinkling lights of the Christmas trees. However, it’s one thing putting the trees up at Hever but it’ another thing entirely to decorate the gorgeous specimens in the Castle itself, so I leave that to the team in the Castle who are experts at distributing the baubles and threading the tinsel!
Visit Hever Castle at Christmas.
(ABove: Neil Miller celebrates Christmas in the gardens of Hever Castle)