For several years we had bought our Christmas tree from a small, family run garden centre, usually for less and for a healthier looking tree, than could be found at the much larger local chain garden centre. Unfortunately, a couple of Christmases ago, we discovered that the owners of the small garden centre had retired and the facility was now closed and so we bought the next two trees from the larger garden centre.
Then a few weeks ago one of the blogs I follow, wrote this post about when to buy real Christmas trees, from whom and how to take care of them and it got me thinking about this years tree and where we should buy if from. A bit of googling later and I had tracked down the website of a Christmas tree grower fairly local to us, Fillingham Trees, who offered a good range of freshly cut trees for prices which were far less than what we would expect to pay at the larger garden centre, even allowing for the diesel costs of travelling an extra 30 miles or so. We usually get our tree the weekend around the 12th December and so we had a couple of weeks to think about it, especially as at that time, we still had the Corsa which was not tree fetching material and my old Land Rover was having problems which meant that short journeys were fine but trips over longer distances weren’t so good.
It looked like we might have to go to the Garden Centre after all ……
….. but then a couple of things happened which changed our choices significantly.
Firstly, we traded the Corsa in for an 18 month old Pick-up truck. We had owned our dear old Mazda B2500 (Thomas) for 10 years by the time we part ex’ed him against the Corsa (Dafny) and almost from the moment we’d driven the Corsa off the forecourt and left our reliable old workhorse behind, we regretted the decision. At the time Mud was doing a weekly commute of 250 miles and the fuel economy of the 2 tonne aging truck, was becoming a cause for concern and there was a very real danger that Thomas would only pass his next MOT after approximately £2,000 ($2,677.20 US or $3,564.50 Australian dollars) of repairs. After much research, Mud decided that we had little choice but to change to a smaller, more economical, petrol car. Since then Muds’ job has changed and he no longer has to do his crippling commute, the fuel economy of the Corsa hasn’t been anywhere near what we expected and we have really, really missed the convenience, practicality and safety of the modern 4×4 pick-up. Annie is great as a family vehicle in the summer but not in the cold winter months, especially for the Mudlets travelling in the back. So we have now traded back up to a Nissan Navara whom we have named TJ (totally justified) and which we can now use to pick-up bulky shopping like bags of compost, lengths of timber and the Mudville Christmas tree!
Secondly, the garden centre had a half price sale on real Christmas trees which sounded great but then we were told that the garden centre had a container load of trees around the back and the husband of a friend of mine had seen lorry loads of trees arriving on lorries with Romanian plates and so we suspect that the Garden Centres ‘half price’ trees are all imported which, if true, is disgusting. Which is why we wanted to make sure that the tree we chose was definitely home-grown.
So yesterday morning we set off to our first ever Christmas Tree farm. The Mudlets’ got excited when they caught their first sight of a field full of Christmas trees. At the Christmas barn itself, we were greeted by the sight of dozens and dozens of trees, grouped in species and height, waiting to find their festive homes. We generally choose a Nordman Fir of between 5 and 6 foot and are quite fussy about the density of the foliage, especially at the top of the tree. Last years tree was nice but the top section was quite sparse. This year we have chosen very well and our tree has a wonderfully dense dark green coverage, wide girth (needs 4 inches trimming off the back so sits a little further back against the wall) and has branches evenly spaced all the way to the top with no large gaps. It’s a 6 footer and we bought it together with a new set of LED lights and a pack of candles, for less than we paid for just the tree last year – and last years tree was only 5 foot tall! It spent a few hours sitting in a bucket of water and is now relaxing in its’ water stand. Mud will trim the 4 inches off tomorrow and I’ll put the lights around it, ready for the Mudlets to decorate it.
As for the girls, they’ve had a fabulous weekend, using their hard earned takings from the Victorian Market to treat themselves to a new decoration (or two in Middle Mudlets’ case) from the Christmas Barn which they can keep out all year if they want, followed by a trip to the Pantomime with Eldest Mudlet and her fiancé today (Sunday) which they thoroughly enjoyed …… “Oh yes they did!”
Mud and I, on the other hand, had our first ‘child free’ meal out in over 13 years!!! We also took a jaunt over to a DIY store and bought some food for the robin and a new feeder which I’ll put out in the morning. Our robin is quite territorial and we half expected him to take over the fat balls in the garden but whilst the sparrows are having a party around the fat balls every day, especially the one on the small pile of hedge trimmings on the lawn which is still awaiting shredding and the tits and other sparrows are happily feeding on seed, the robin and blackbird aren’t getting much of a look in and we suspect that they need something a little more protein filled. So we’ve bought some “Peckish Robin Insect Mix” and a dedicated feeder which we hope will help two of our favourite garden inhabitants get through what looks like it could be a harsh winter.