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Award-winning Christmas tree grower Clive Collins answers that perennial question – Which tree to have at Christmas?

5th November 2019


The benefits of having a real tree in your home at Christmas have been well publicised over the last few years. Studies show pine needle aroma can help lighten moods and reduce stress. In addition, while technology is making it easier for family members to do their own thing, choosing and decorating a real tree is an activity the whole family can enjoy.  Real trees are also more sustainable, particularly if they are recycled after Christmas.

Some families have developed an annual tradition of putting on the wellies and visiting a plantation like Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm to select a tree and tie a ribbon around it before it has been cut. This marks the start of their festive period and is a wonderful experience for the whole family who then look forward to welcoming the tree into their home and caring for it.

In the old days, if you wanted a tree, you had to follow in the footsteps of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and choose the Norway Spruce. Nowadays, there are several different options, all cultivated in the UK, which we can enjoy in our homes. But which tree should you choose? Award-winning Christmas tree grower Clive Collins, of Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm, has looked at the options and offers his advice.

Norway Spruce – “The traditional option. Still a very popular tree, especially in outdoor locations. It’s bright green hue and refreshing pine scent make it a perfect addition to many homes but it does tend to drop needles. We often advise people who want the Norway Spruce to perhaps bring it into the home closer to Christmas. A good option is to find a Christmas tree farm where you can select your tree while it is growing, so it won’t be cut until closer to Christmas. That way you get the fresh scent with less dropping and less maintenance.”

Nordmann Fir – “Now firmly established as one of the most popular trees in the UK, partly because they are ‘non-drop’ and partly because they have the classic symmetrical Christmas tree shape. The Nordmann Fir has dark green, broad needles and requires less maintenance than the Norway Spruce. It is also sturdy, with a wide base and larger needle, making it perfect for larger decorations. We tend to recommend this tree if you have family or pets that may knock into the tree. Also, if it is watered properly, it will last throughout the Christmas season.”

Blue Spruce – “For those who are looking for something a little different the Blue Spruce has, as the name suggests, a silver-blue tinge to its foliage during the Christmas period. Its needles are sharp but it does tend to hold them a little better than the Norway Spruce. We tend to recommend this tree if it is going to be in a cool place where it won’t be regularly knocked.”

Fraser Fir – “The quintessential American Christmas tree. Now gaining popularity in the UK, this tree has a lovely, aromatic fragrance. One of its key attractions is its narrow base – ideal for tight spaces. It also has firm branches, like the Norway Spruce, but tends to hold its needles, like the Nordmann Fir.”

Serbian Spruce – “Another spruce that can have a slight problem with needle drop, but better than the Norway Spruce. Its key advantages are that it is narrow and has a lovely bluish underside to the needle. We tend to recommend the Serbian Spruce if the customer has a narrow corridor or wants simple decorations. They look great with just a simple string of lights.

Scots Pine – “Scotland’s national tree. It has bright, blue-green foliage and a lovely fragrance. Some people find the needles a little too sharp, but it has truly excellent needle retention and its branches are very strong.”

These are the mostly commonly chosen trees in the UK but there are others, including the Noble Fir, Douglas Fir, Lodgepole Pine and Balsam Fir. Each tree has its own character meaning whatever you need for your home, there is the ideal real tree for you.

Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm, near Battle, has been growing trees in the East Sussex countryside for more than 25 years. During this time they have won multiple awards for their trees and the way they approach their business. In October 2019, they received two awards at The Rural Business Awards (South East), including ‘Rural Young Person of the Year’ for employee Toby Ballard, and will now progress to the national finals in February 2020.

In addition to offering a range of different types of locally grown Christmas trees to its customers, the Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm shop also supplies stands, decorations, lights and hand-crafted wreaths to help its customers make the most out of Christmas.

The farm is open from Saturday 16th November to Christmas Eve, 9am to 6pm daily. Customers can reserve their tree in the plantation from 16th November until Friday 29th November only.

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For more information or interview requests contact Suzi Christie on 07590 591140 or email

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