Winter is upon us and Christmas is coming! Now dark both during the journey to work and when I return home, the frost has descended and though snow has not made an appearance here the temperature has certainly dropped. And where can I be found during this merry festive period –selling beautiful, lush green Christmas trees for the Forestry Commission!
Selling Christmas trees is an annual event for the FC and this year the honour and organisational challenge of the operation at Queen Elizabeth Country Park became mine. For several months now part of every week has been spent arranging the tree deliveries, signage, price lists, decorations, staffing etc of the site and on Friday 27th of November we opened for business.
It is a lot of work, particularly now as I am working six days a week to ensure the smooth running of everything, but so far all is going splendidly. Many of my colleagues have very kindly offered to give up their weekends to help man the site, and the trees themselves look terrific in all their bushy green glory.
At Queen Elizabeth Country Park we sell three different species: Nordmann Fir, Norway Spruce and Lodgepole Pine. The Pine and Fir are grown in Scotland and the Spruce is from Yorkshire. The three trees are all subtly different and it is really personal preference that sways the choice of one over the others. Indeed I have already noticed that people very sweetly seem to favour whichever one they grew up having as their Christmas tree, as to them the tree of their childhood remains the definitive Christmas tree.
We get asked a lot if we sell a non-drop tree and the answer is no. None of the trees are non-drop, however, if kept in the right conditions (cool and with plenty of water) they should all hold their needles well, the best for needle retention being the Nordmann Fir which makes it the most popular choice of the three. The Nordmann has bigger, smoother needles than the other two and looks super, but the Spruce is wonderfully bushy and smells very Christmassy, while the Pine also smells great and has a lovely elegant sweeping shape.
We stock all three up to 8ft and the Nordmann up to 12ft. I must admit that while I have no problem handling the smaller trees – lots of pulling them out to show them off to people, cutting the netting off to demonstrate how they look, and then re-netting them again once sold, that once we get to over 6ft I am totally dwarfed by the trees and sometimes have issues holding the bigger ones upright… oh the perils of being of small stature! Wreaths and little potted Christmas trees are also available from us and look wonderfully festive.
In exciting news the FC were again given the honour this year of supplying the Christmas tree for the Houses of Parliament. My colleagues up in Kielder Forest in the North of England felled a wonderful looking 45 foot Sitka Spruce which is now proudly lighting up Westminster. For more information on this: http://news.forestry.gov.uk/2015/12/yule-be-back.html and for the story of last year’s Christmas tree at Westminster and its journey to London: http://immersive.sh/forestrycommissionengland/ugq_KnjyP
The site looks marvellously Christmassy and it is really good fun getting stuck in and selling the trees, I am very much enjoying it. The atmosphere is so festive and happy, as people choose trees to decorate their family homes and celebrate all coming together for Christmas. I myself will have to wait rather longer to enjoy my own family tree as I will not be flying back to Scotland until a couple of days before Christmas. I do hope my parents pick out a good tree for us as by that point I will certainly be a good judge of them!
If you are local and would like to visit us and select a Christmas tree we are selling them at Queen Elizabeth Country Park seven days a week from 10am to 4.30pm until the 20th of December and for more information visit the FC Christmas website: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/christmas