Showcasing young musical talent, this year's Winter Concert at Arthur Terry School was an outstanding success and took place against the stunning backdrop of a Christmas Tree donated by GardenSite.
I have been selling Christmas trees now for over 40 years and consider myself an expert. Here is my guide to choosing an artificial Christmas tree.
People have always introduced greenery into the home at this time of the year, a reminder of life beyond the bleak mid-winter. Artificial Christmas trees aren't a new invention. The first documented ones appeared in the late 18th century.
Later, 'feather' trees were popular and remained so until the 1920s. Then in the 1930s Addis introduced a tree that became very popular, surprisingly so, as they were basically just large toilet brushes dyed green.
By the 1960s and 70s we became familiar with the aluminium and plastic varieties decorated with lots of tinsel. They made little effort to look realistic but were amazingly well received because they had so many advantages over a real tree.
Who could resist the temptation of no needle drop and a tree that could be folded up and stored until the following year. The same tree could be brought out annually meaning no further expense following the initial purchase.
Other advantages that captured the public's attention included minimum maintenance and no need to regularly top up with water.
The trees could be positioned anywhere, next to a radiator was no problem. With no needle drop, you didn't have to worry about pets swallowing them. Coming in a variety of sizes, these trees could easily fit into any domestic location.
Technological advances and changes in fashion have meant that these sparse and skinny tinsel trees have now been replaced by ones that are incredibly realistic. Pine and spruce along with Fir have been replicated by a range of artificial trees, amongst them Norwegian, Rocky Mountain and Alaskan pine together with Norway and Serbian spruce.
Some have a dusting of frost or snow while others feign realism with lifelike berries, cones and ferns. The natural look can continue with a sacking base or a stand that resembles those used for a real tree. There's even a windswept tree heavily weighed down by 'snow'.
If you have no time for decorating a tree, many now come complete with lights and if you prefer, realism can take a back seat, as the advent of LEDs have created trees that are decorations in their own right.
Pop-up Christmas trees are something else altogether. There are decorative more than realistic and can be erected in minutes. The tree is already decorated and is a riot of tinsel and baubles. A little showy to say the least but certainly an attention grabber in a variety of colours (even black), some also have the advantage of being battery operated.
As for lights, if the tree doesn't come with illumination you'll be relieved to know that even fairy lights have moved with the times, LED lights are startlingly bright and can be animated to twinkle, chase, move and produce other effects that will excite children and fascinate adults.
To mesmerise your guests wrap the tree with LED cluster lights. Each micro light is on a separate strand so that a tinsel effect is created. Choose between white, warm white or multi-coloured, simply hung around the tree for maximum effect from minimum effort.
Wax candle lights, in red or white, will flicker and glow, while at the opposite end of the spectrum, fibre optic trees have built in rainbow colours sparkling from the end of their branches. More space age than Dickensian age.
An artificial tree has a lot going for it. It's all about sparkle and shine with a bit of scintillation thrown in, and they can be a lot easier and cheaper than a real tree, this is after all the time of the year for enjoyment and putting your feet up, not vacuuming and watering.
The most convincing artificial trees, with great shape, size and colour, use PE to replicate the prickly feel of real branches, they can be virtually indistinguishable from the real thing but won't give you a rash!
Look out for the 'tip count'. Generally more branch tips means better quality although thicker branches can achieve the same density on a lower tip count.
Whatever size, contemporary or traditional, you will find one that's perfect.
Gardensite have been selling artificial Christmas trees for years, so if you need any help in selecting an artificial Christmas tree then please do not hesitate to call 0121 355 7701, visit the website or garden centre. They can offer any advice on all aspects of buying and caring for a tree, including information on how to decorate your artificial Christmas tree and how to install lights.
This years range of artificial Christmas trees is perhaps the best they have ever offered and represents exceptional value for money. So if you're convinced by the benefits of an artificial tree, then it seems sensible to save time, trouble and expense by buying on today!
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