With Christmas rapidly approaching, our New Oscott Garden Centre has just taken delivery of that most seasonal of plants – the Poinsettia. These are David Hall's tips on to how to keep these beautiful plants at their colourful best.
When purchasing a Christmas tree, you may or may not be aware that you're continuing a centuries old tradition that was enthusiastically adopted by the Victorians. An artificial tree as Andy Taylor explains is just a modern take on this age old practice.
People have always introduced greenery into the home at this time of the year, a reminder of life beyond the bleak mid-winter. When the Christmas tree was popularised by Prince Albert, the fruit, nuts and flowers were replaced by coloured ribbons and decorative baubles.
Real Christmas trees are undoubtedly very attractive but have quite a few drawbacks. Anyone who has struggled into the house with one, managed to prop it upright before vacuuming away a bucketful of dead needles a fortnight later, will be only too aware of their troublesome nature.
Artificial Christmas trees can be positioned anywhere in the house, this includes next to radiators that dry out natural trees leading to even more needle drop. Even if a natural tree is watered, with only a small root ball or none at all, it will be dying before you purchase it. Then after a fortnight or so it will have to be taken to the dump.
With an artificial tree, its pristine shapely appearance remains indefinitely and you just pack it away in a storage bag after Christmas, ready for next year. All this saves you lots of time and no little expense.
With hinged branches and stands, artificial trees are easy to display, there's no need to saw off the bottom or to manoeuvre it into a bucket with the sharp needles cutting into your hands.
Decorating the tree with lights and Christmas ornaments is also less painful, with the lifelike branches made from a new soft material that's also a totally realistic texture and colour. There is normally a choice of height, anything from table top trees to ones that tower over you at 8ft tall, so whether you live in a mansion or bedsit, there's one for you.
The first artificial trees appeared as early as the late 18th century. Later, 'feather' trees were popular and remained so until the 1920s. Then in the '30s Addis introduced a tree that sold surprisingly well, considering it was basically just a large green tooth brush.
Most of us however are more 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.
Technological advances and changes in fashion have meant that these sparse and skinny tinsel trees have now been replaced by our range of artificial trees that are incredibly realistic. Pine and spruce along with Fir have been replicated by a range of artificial trees, among them Vancouver Mixed and Alaskan pine, together with Nodic and Tuscan Fir, and Serbian spruce.
The most convincing, 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. Some have a dusting of frost or are weighed down with 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.
If you have no time for decorating a tree, many now come pre-lit and, if you prefer, realism can take a back seat, as the advent of LEDs and fibre optics has created fabulous trees that sparkle with light and are fantastic decorations in their own right.
Pop-up trees are something else altogether. There are decorative more than realistic and can be erected in minutes. The tree is already 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.
At GardenSite only the best quality trees are selected for sale at prices to suit everyone's budget. Bear in mind we don't always list online all the Artificial Christmas Trees we have in stock, so call us if you can't see what your looking for and we will do our utmost to help.
We have been selling trees for over 50 years and will be able to offer all the advice you need, including the best way to decorate your tree and how to install lights.
Our selection of artificial trees is the best we 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 from GardenSite.
You might not be familiar with the UK Men's Sheds Association but this is a fast growing organisation that, as David Coton discovered, encourages camaraderie and a sense of achievement among its members.
The Wildlife Aid Foundation recently purchased several animal ornaments from GardenSite and David Coton, one of our partners, thought that this charity carried out such terrific work that we made a charitable donation to assist with the cost.
With high winds increasingly affecting most parts of Britain, many people are likely to be contacting their insurance companies at some time regarding damage caused to sheds, greenhouses, fences and other garden property. Robert Hall explains how GardenSite.co.uk can help with an independent insurance quote and claim.
Here in Birmingham, the weather has been as changeable as ever, very warm just before Easter followed by a cold spell only last week. During May the threat of further frost will largely pass and, with spring well under way, Robert Hall is in no doubt that this is going to be a busy month in the garden.