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The Best Real Christmas Trees And Where To Find Them
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On-drop needles or not, all cut Christmas trees die sooner or later. Come January they're either in a sorry, naked state at the bottom of the garden with most of the needles somewhere in your lounge.
The traditional cut Christmas tree in Britain has been the Norway spruce for many years (Picea abies), which has short, bright green, pointed needles that drop quickly. In recent years, however, sales of “non-drop” varieties, such as the conical Nordman fir (Abies nordmanniana); Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) which has soft, wide and flat dark green needles; and blue spruce (Picea pungens), with glaucous or silver-blue foliage, have overtaken the Norway spruce.
Provided care is taken in looking after the tree it should survive over four weeks, according to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. Here's our guide to all the different types of tree and tips on how to make yours last.
Meanwhile, if you're still considering whether or not to go for an artificial tree instead, you might find our guide to the best artificial Christmas trees useful, too.
1. Norway spruce
Norway Spruce Christmas Tree
Spiky: Norway Spruce Christmas tree CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY
This is the traditional British Christmas tree which has been popular since Victorian times. The bright green Norway Spruce has a lovely scent but quickly drops its dense, spiky needles, so if you're keen on this variety, wait until later in December and make sure you water it regularly.
Buy yours from Tree Shop, Ashridge Nurseries or Trees to Plants
2. Nordmann Fir
Nordmann fir Christmas tree
Symmetrical: Nordmann fir Christmas tree CREDIT: BRITISH CHRISTMAS TREE GROWERS ASSOCIATION
Increasingly popular in Britain, the Nordmann fir is now Britain's biggest selling Christmas tree. It's slightly more expensive than a Norway spruce and has little fragrance however, it crucially retains its needles for longer. The trees, which were originally found in south Russia, have a reliably symmetrical shape and dark green broad needles. The foliage is soft and glossy, which make it child-friendly.
Buy yours from Wyvale Garden Centres, Send Me A Christmas Tree, Pines and Needles, King & Co or Paramount Plants
3. Blue spruce
Blue Spruce Christmas tree
Striking: Blue Spruce Christmas tree CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY
The needles of this tree have a lovely silver-blue colour, though they are rather prickly. The tree holds its needles well and they generally have a good symmetrical form.
Buy yours from Jackson's Nurseries or Ornamental Trees
4. Fraser fir
The Obama family taking delivery of a 19-foot Fraser fir Christmas tree for the White House in 2012.
Presidential: Fraser fir Christmas tree CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/ BRENDAN HOFFMAN
It's not dissimilar in shape to the Norway spruce, but popular American fir the Fraser doesn't drop its needles as quickly. It also has a more narrow base - making it ideal for tight spaces. It's now the best selling Christmas tree in the US, and also has a lovely, aromatic fragrance. The Obama family are pictured taking delivery one for the White House in 2012.
Buy yours from Hayes Garden World or Scottish Christmas Trees
5. Serbian spruce
Serbian Spruce Christmas tree
Similar to the Norway spruce, but with an attractive blue underside to the needles. These trees are quite slender, so are suited to smaller homes. They're very popular in central Europe.
Buy yours from John Lewis or B&Q
6. Douglas fir
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Very popular in the US since the 1920s, the Douglas fir has soft, dark green or blue green needles. The tree is popular for its good needle retention and a lovely citrus fragrance.
Buy yours from the Tree Shop or Trees Online
7. Lodgepole pine
Lodgepole pine Christmas tree
Strong: Lodgepole pine Christmas tree CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY
Native to the US, this tree's straight stems were supposedly once used by Native Americans as the central pole for their wigwams. It's a bushy tree with yellowy-green needles and is very good for needle retention.
Buy yours from Alba Trees or Needlefresh UK
8. Noble fir
Noble fir Christmas tree
Grey-green: Noble fir Christmas tree CREDIT: DAILY TELEGRAPH
This fir has attractive grey-green needles that tilt upwards and very strong branches, so is a good choice for hanging heavy decorations on. They are native of the forests of Washington and Oregon and were introduced into Britain in 1830. They're hard to find in the UK and more expensive, although their needle retention is among the best.
Buy yours from Barcham Tree Specialists
9. Scots pine
Scots pine Christmas tree
CREDIT: FORESTRY COMMISSION SCOTLAND
Sightly less common, the Scots pine is a native tree with bright, blue-green foliage and a lovely fragrance. The needles are quite sharp. Excellent needles retention as they don't fall, even when dry.
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