Christmas trees and new traditions

Going.Local
Published on December 14th 2020
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A person standing on top of a wooden cutting board
Christmas trees have a sort of mysticism about them that liven up any room. It can be anything you want it to be, but sometimes we lack the will or inspiration to start decorating.
Here are some unconventional and conventional ideas that will make you smile long after Christmas has ended.
New traditions!
Why not start a new family tradition this year? If you are anything like me, then you might tire of putting up the same decorations year after year. So why not start a new family tradition that you will look forward to each year?
A close up of a plant
It might be donating a tree in memory of a loved one, choosing a bonsai Christmas tree or building a sculptural one with vines. We will give you a list of each to help you decide what to do:

Sponsor a Tree

If your family wants to forgo the big tree in the living room, but embrace the Christmas spirit of giving, then you can opt to donate a tree. There are two projects of note you may consider: 1) Greenpop SA’s “Donate a Tree” program and 2) Stellenbosch Trail Fund’s Commemorative Tree Project.
The first is a program designed around reforestation of historical forests in South Africa.
The second is a collaborative project between Trees SA and the Stellenbosch Trail Fund that allows you to pick a mature commemorative tree to be planted in the name of someone dear.
A small bird perched on a tree branch

Bonsai Xmas trees

Who said Christmas trees need to be ginormous? What would it be like if you could build a beautiful bonsai collection over the years and have a Christmas memory for each one?
Sound enticing? It would be like having a commemorative living token of a family birthday for each year you spend together. The best part is you can start with a seedling and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.
A plant in a garden
Where to shop:
*Note suppliers might be low on stock so try more than one.

A tree or not a tree?

One of the best ways to justify buying that "…fill in the name of your desired vine here…" is to make it a Christmas tree. I bet you are all looking at me sideways right about now, but it is possible. All you need is a cone frame.
Not the DIY type? You can buy garden cones/obelisks readymade and all you need is to place your vine of choice inside and train the vines around the structure. You will have your green foliage Christmas and a frame for your wonderful decorations.
A person standing on top of a wooden fence
A great way to learn more on garden structures is to attend Babylonstoren’s Garden Structure Workshop by French gardener Gilles Guillot.
Take a gander at past workshops:
More non-traditional tree ideas:
  • Use Agave inflorescence
  • Support a wire artist by buying a wire tree
  • Create a tree out of driftwood
A person standing in a kitchen

I want a tree for Christmas

You like the idea of having a living tree or tight topiary-like cone to decorate, but have no idea where to start. Well, one can always opt for traditional Firs, Pine or Spruce from your local grocery store or add a pop of colour with a Monterey cypress.
A vase of flowers on a table
Care tip | Firs hold onto needles better than pine once dry. They also have softer needles and will have less firm branches. Take this into account when buying cut trees.
Care tip | Lemon cypresses require the soil to be moist (not wet or sitting in water) as well as a good amount of light.
If you feel that the high maintenance of dwarf cypresses may be a bit too much, then start experimenting with the art of topiary. Topiary can be applied to a wide range of compact shrubs including Small-Leaved Box, Lavender or Rosemary. The latter will give you something to cook with and be a great waterwise addition to your garden.
Some examples to consider:
Firs - Douglas, Balsam, Fraser
Pine - Scotch, White
Spruces - White, Norway, Blue
Widdringtonia
Other retailers of note:

Have a Merry Christmas everyone! Whatever you decide, do not forget to share your joy with us! We love seeing your #ChristmasTrees

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