Oh Christmas Tree

By Bernie Bell

I was thinking of the fact that Christmas trees are already appearing, indoors.

Christmas treeEach year, thousands of trees are grown and cut down, to supply the Christmas tree business. Most of these are then thrown away. Some are shredded, to become mulch or compost, but many, far too many, just stand about in warm houses, drying up, dying quietly, and are then thrown on a rubbish heap. They will eventually rot, too – fair enough, but……well, another of the bees in my bonnet …it bothers me that so many are grown, just to be cut down and die, to no purpose at all.

So, I’m going to make a suggestion. Could folk please try to buy a rooted tree?  Keep it watered while it’s indoors, then, if you have a garden, plant it out after Christmas.  Each tree can be a memory of that Christmas, and, if you have a bit of land, you could end up with nice piece of coniferous woodland!

We tried this, for a few years, where we live, but I think the salt air is not good for the coniferous trees, and they died. So, we got a whirly willow obelisk.  We twine lights around it, hang sparkly decorations from it, and it looks very jolly and festive – but no trees have to die in the process!  It doesn’t even harm the willow, to have been cut to make the obelisk, as trimming strengthens willow.

Christmas Willow

This is just a suggestion, which might mean that so many trees are not grown, and cut down, only to die, pointlessly.

Editor’s note: No trees were harmed in the making of The Orkney News

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How faithful are thy branches!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How faithful are thy branches!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Green not alone in summertime,
But in the winter’s frost and rime;
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How faithful are they branches.

Boney M. – Oh Christmas Tree (1984)

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6 replies »

  1. One of my artificial trees cost £30 back in 1985, it still goes up every year and yes it’s starting to look a little sparse now, but heh is that not what extra thick tinsel’s for.

  2. Boney M??? Boney M??? Are you taking the P, Fiona?!!!!!!

    On a more serious note – my chum Charleen also placed this on her Facebook page, in November. Some folk responded by asking, isn’t it a bad thing to have more and more plastic, artificial things being produced? I couldn’t answer directly, as I don’t do Facebook! But, if anyone is thinking that – well – I didn’t suggest using plastic, I suggested willow.
    Or, if, like Helen, you get an artificial tree, take care of it and use it year after year – isn’t that still a better option than the waste of all those Christmas trees, dying needlessly and being discarded when Christmas is over?
    Someone else took me up on the fact that some famers have diversified into growing Christmas trees. Trying to put this briefly – yes, some farmers grow Christmas trees. That’s a very limited market, once a year. Some famers, with rough land that isn’t much use for anything else, grow woodland, which is then cut when it’s mature, and used for building, to make furniture, etc.
    I’ll possibly bring down some wrath on my head when I say this, but my response to the idea that it’s fine to grow all those trees, to be cut down once a year for the Christmas trade, as it provides an income for farmers is……Farmers can use their land in other ways. If it’s not good land, they can grow trees, but let them grow and be harvested to be something useful, when they are mature. The Christmas tree trade, once a year? I don’t know a lot about the economics of it, but I don’t see that that would sustain a farmer? Possibly those farmers have the Christmas trees as only one part of what they produce? And so, aren’t actually dependent on them for a living? Maybe I’m mistaken. Even if I am, I still, personally, wince at the trees, standing there in someone’s living room, dying, and also…..at the waste.
    What it comes down to is – I’m presenting my own view on this. People make their own choices.

  3. I forgot – someone else pointed out that they can’t plant out rooted trees, because they don’t have a garden. You don’t need to plant out a willow obelisk! Planting out, was just one possible option.
    This is what happens when you put your head over the parapet – you get shot at!

  4. In fact, many species of coniferous trees do very well in Orkney and spruce (Christmas tree) is very often used as a first planting to provide shelter for more susceptible species. For evidence, see Olav’s Wood.

  5. I think ours didn’t manage, because we are right by the sea, and get salt-laden winds – so much so, that our windows often have the ‘Sylvia Wishart Effect’. But, as you say, there are plenty of places in Orkney where conifers grow well.
    I have seen Olav’s Wood – many times! One of my favourite places.
    I don’t know what you’ll make of the following story, but you might recognize the tree!


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