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Welcome to the CountryLife Gardening Blog, written by our horticulturist to provide you with the best tips & advice for all things gardening!  We have been shortlisted for Best Lifestyle Blog in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 Company Category. 

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Deck the Halls

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Dec 22, 2015

While artificial Christmas trees have come on leaps and bounds in appearance over the last number of years, for me you really can't beat a real Christmas tree.The festive season is truly upon us now and you can already start to sense the true magic of Christmas. It stepped up a notch here in CountryLife when we took delivery of this year's Christmas trees.

While artificial Christmas trees have come on leaps and bounds in appearance over the last number of years, for me you really can't beat a real Christmas tree. I think it is the same for most gardeners you can never beat the glorious smell or feel of a real Irish grown Christmas tree in your house. The smell seems to have an ability to waft throughout the house and take the Christmas feeling up a notch.

The idea of bringing evergreen foliage into houses during winter is a concept that has been done for centuries. Our ancestors believed that bringing evergreen foliage into the house and hanging it up would keep away evil spirits. Others believed that bringing in evergreen foliage around the winter solstice acted as a reminder that plants will come back to life in spring once winter and the harsh weather associated with it had passed. As a gardener I prefer the latter concept behind Christmas trees.

I am often surprised by the amount of people that are turned off real Christmas trees because of the perceived work and maintenance they require. A big turn off for some people is the mess they create when they loose their needles. This was the case with spruce Christmas trees which when they would dry out would drop every single needle the minute you brushed past it. However with non-shed varieties available this does not pose a problem any more. At the moment in store we have fantastic 7ft non-shed Christmas trees which have been grown in Wicklow.

There are a few things you can still do to make sure your tree stays green looking for the entire festive season. When you buy your tree make sure it is a good quality one to start with. If you are not ready to put it up straight away leave it outside in the garden. The moisture in the air will keep it fresh for you. If you leave it in a garage or shed the tree can often start to dry out.

I find the best tree stands to use for real trees are the ones with a water reservoir built into them which you can keep topped up during Christmas. Just before you place the tree in the stand I like to cut the bottom again as often the cut will have sealed up and the tree will not take up fresh water as easily.

Keeping your tree away from heat sources will prevent it drying outEven the position of the tree in a room can have an impact on how long your Christmas tree will last.

Keep it away from fire places and radiators as even with a supply of water at the base these heat sources can dry out a tree very quickly.

Even the type of lights you use can have an impact. Modern LED lights do not use as much energy and do not heat up as much as traditional fairy lights.

If you keep these few tips in mind when it comes to your tree it is very easy to keep it looking lush and green throughout the entire festive season. 

Written by Malachy

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Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!

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