The Stopwatch Gardener

A gardening blog from Sheila M. Averbuch

Fake tree is a real relief


Click for larger imageIf Christmas was part of your childhood and your memories of it are generally positive, you’ll probably look to replicate what you can of Christmas past when you’re all grown up. For me, a favourite memory is lying down and looking up through the boughs of my parents’ Christmas tree, with red and green lights casting a glow on the ornaments, and breathing in the pine scent. I’m not sure if I did this before or after seeing Pluto’s Christmas Tree, a 1952 Disney short (you can watch it in full here — thanks, YouTube), where Mickey Mouse and his dog are thwarted in trimming their tree by the chipmunks inside it. Watching Chip and Dale leap about, loosening lights and stealing ornaments, I was sure nothing could be better than living inside a Christmas tree, and I always imagined myself as one of them when I peeked through the branches every year.

So it’s extra strange that, this year, I’ve bought my family’s first ever fake Christmas tree.  I’m stunned at how happy I am with it. There is no scent of pine. Its boughs are too thickly woven to see up through. It’s unnervingly symmetrical. But even with all its conical artificiality, I dig this tree. So many things about it save me time and hassle, this year and in future Christmasses, and so it hits the bulls’ eye for me.

It has great clearance at the bottom for presents; our old real trees have been so crowded at the bottom that presents spilled far into the room. Its shape may be too perfect, but it reaches to the ceiling while keeping to its corner, and I don’t miss the real trees that thrust their fat rumps into the room, begging to have needles knocked off. The kids love the tree’s tall twinklyness, and with the “night” setting on my Fuji, I can capture endless Disneyesque, inside-the-tree shots. Most important, I’ve avoided hacking down a young tree to create a decoration that is only briefly perfect. This tree will last, and I am already appreciating how fresh and festive it still looks after 10 days. With all its Christmasy aroma, the real tree and its slow death inside the house is a downer, and the decline is visible so quickly, even with TLC. And did I mention we’re not running the vacuum cleaner every day to erase signs of decay? Plus, no more two-hour tree-hunting trips in December, the month when I can least spare the time.

Instead maybe I’ll get to spend a few hours in December as many other gardeners do, laying plans for the next season. My mother phoned from Boston yesterday to say she had sent us some money for Christmas, so I found myself in Dobbies this afternoon with a budget in mind and a list in hand. I now have the essential ingredients for The Eatin’ Project, as I’m calling my first proper attempt at growing vegetables in a 1m x 1.2m raised bed. I have been rubbish at growing vegetables but I will make it happen this year. If I teach my kids nothing else about the garden, it should be basic skills about how to turn seeds into food, just in case the climate goes to hell sooner than we think and commercial agriculture simply can’t support us all. If I invest five or 10 years making all my mistakes now, maybe I can help them get a better start.

Merry Christmas to all.

8 Comments to

“Fake tree is a real relief”

  1. On December 20th, 2009 at 6:52 pm James A-S Says:

    I’m with you in the fake tree corner. We have had one for three years now: it is exactly the right size and saves a lot of messing around either dragging trees out of the woods or deciding which one looks okay done up in a net.
    I tried a potted opne opnce but that was worse: where in anybody’s garden can you plant a Christmas tree? without any tinsel they are terribly ugly. I planted it in a Christmas tree plantation in the end.
    I am going to go and lie underneath it to see if I can get a Disney moment.

  2. On December 20th, 2009 at 7:42 pm The StopWatch Gardener Says:

    James – good point about the potted versions. I’m quite sure the abomination in a corner of our garden was a badly re-homed Christmas tree. It is gone now, and the light comes through.

  3. On December 22nd, 2009 at 9:24 am Sisah Says:

    Artificial christmas trees in a keen gardener´s house? I am flabbergasted..
    Producing these trees needs a lot of energy and other ressources, most of these fake trees are made from PVC i.e.petroleum-based products and have no positive environmental impact at all . I cannot believe you are serious.
    Real trees grow back! “.North American forests cover about the same area of land as they did 100 years ago and, in the last decade, have actually expanded by nearly 10 million acres. For every tree harvested, up to three more are planted to ensure a steady supply year after year.” says Dr. Patrick Moore former Greenpeace President

    Real trees are never perfect and I am glad they are not, they are individuals like every other creature and in our house it is part of the christmas preparations to restage a natural tree at its best.
    Frohe Weihnachten

  4. On December 22nd, 2009 at 10:42 am Twitted by stopwatchgarden Says:

    […] This post was Twitted by stopwatchgarden […]

  5. On December 22nd, 2009 at 9:35 pm Charlotte Says:

    Have to say that I resorted to “fake” trees about five years ago … and then suddenly, this year….. went out and bought a real tree! Five days into the run up to Christmas, with pine needles in my feet, carpets, hair and food…. I’m wondering why on earth I didn’t stick to my guns on the old fake tree, which is languishing in the attic. Will take a view on this on 12th night!!

  6. On December 22nd, 2009 at 11:14 pm melanie watts Says:

    Say what you want about fake trees I got mine 10 years ago and I love it.

    Up here, in British Columbia Canada, almost all our pine trees are dead because of the pine Beetle. Dead trees produce carbon dioxide at a amazing rate. Thus we need all the live trees we can get, to off set our co2 production.

  7. On December 24th, 2009 at 10:53 am The StopWatch Gardener Says:

    Sisah – I appreciate your comments and totally get that real Christmas trees are a non-negotiable part of the season for millions of people, especially keen gardeners. For me, living things are most joyful to see in the garden, and I’ve always looked on cut flowers and houseplants as with a (shameful) combination bad combination of pity, scorn and neglect — the tree is just a big version of the same thing. I know the trees generally are recycled but would love to see that energy and money from our local council diverted to something more useful like food-scrap recycling.

    Charlotte – yeah, we’ve chased needles ’til June most years!

    Melanie – that beetle is devastating…don’t envy you that!

  8. On January 8th, 2010 at 4:12 pm uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by stopwatchgarden: No time to waste in December? Here’s why I’ve found a fake tree a real relief. Plus: The Eatin’ Project kicks off

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