Timely tips for your Christmas trees and wreaths

Deck the Halls with boughs of Holly, we’re feeling festive at Harlow Carr

This week we received our first batch of real Christmas trees and wreaths, so with the nights now drawing in and our first flurry of snow last weekend we can really say winter is upon us.

Christmas tree and decorationThe history of the Christmas tree

Dressing a Christmas tree is suggested to have originated in Germany between the 15th and 16th centuries. Evergreen trees were brought into homes and decorated, a practive which spread in popularity during the second half of the 19th century, especially after Prince Albert introduced them to the Royal household.

Trees were traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts, or other foods. Candles followed in the 18th century, ultimately replaced by Christmas lights as a safer way of bringing sparkle to the tree. Wreaths became popular as a table centrepiece with four candles, which were lit on the four Advent Sundays up to Christmas.

Caring for your Christmas tree

To keep your tree and wreath in the best condition we recommend you cut a couple of inches off the bottom of the tree to make a “fresh cut” and stand the tree in a bucket of water for a couple of days to allow it to draw up water. When you bring it into the house make sure you use a tree stand that allows you to keep it watered throughout the Christmas season. Treated this way, you will have a lush, pine scented tree to adorn your living room and not a highly decorated skeleton standing in the corner, devoid of needles.

Your wreath should be made around a mossed ring which will act as a sponge to allow the foliage to stay fresh. To keep it that way, take it down once a week and lay it in a tray of water overnight and then hang it up again the following morning.

Plants for winter interestWhat to plant now

In the plant centre, we are receiving deliveries of winter interest shrubs, houseplants and fruit collections, all of which can be planted now.
At this time of year it’s important to remember that plants bring architectural interest to a garden with their stems, foliage and shape and not just their flowers, so Alice and I have had great fun producing a winter interest collection. We have based it on the beautiful winter walk that the garden team have developed over the last three seasons.

Our root-wrapped raspberry canes are available, and we have varieties that give early, mid and late fruits to keep you in raspberries for the whole summer. Our fruit tree collection is ideal to plant now, with trees to suit all conditions, from fan trained cherries for a north wall, step over apple trees to edge your vegetable plot, to dwarf grafted trees for planting in pots on your patio. Whatever you choose we can offer advice on getting the best results for you.

Ongoing we are getting everything outside ready for the winter, the gravel beds are being cleared, raked and tidied. The plants are being inspected and pruned if needed and everything is being given a bit of TLC to give it the best chance of a good start to growth when the spring eventually arrives.

PointsettiaPlants for Christmas flowering

Fran has been merrily adding to our range of Christmas houseplants and we are boasting a great selection of Orchids, poinsettias and planted bowls to brighten your living rooms and give some much needed flower and foliage in the dark winter months.

Poinsettias are a great gift for someone who likes to crank up the heat in their homes over Christmas. When I was first taught about them I was told to treat them as I would an elderly aunt; keep them warm, out of draughts and don’t give them  too much to drink!


More information

Christmas flowering houseplants
Growing Raspberries
Raspberries video tutorial
Christmas gift ideas

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