Christmas Trees

Christmas Tree at the Painted Hall
Gethyn asks:

It’s my first Christmas in Greenwich! Can anyone tell me where I should buy a real Christmas tree from? Ideally I’d like tree from a sustainable source, a good selection to choose from and a festive experience. Quite a lot to ask I know! Does a place exist nearby?

The Phantom replies:

Congratulations on your first festive season in Greenwich, Gethyn. I confess I’m a bit rubbish over Christmas trees – I keep saying ” No – it’s too early” – until it’s too bloomin’ late.

The first question to ask is “Do you have access to a car?” If so, I suggest you take a trip to Ruxley Manor Garden Centre which should tick all three boxes for you. They do lots of festive events which are, frankly, rather kiddie-oriented – but hey – there’s something almost sweet about over-excited kiddies at this time of year. It’s a huge centre, has a large selection and the trees are from sustainable sources (though they are brought in from Ireland so the Christmas Tree Miles are a bit higher than some.) The only fault I can think of is that it ain’t cheap. But – they are doing a special deal at the moment where if you bring this voucher they give you another, money-off voucher to spend in the new year.

There are several garden centres just outside the area in Kent – on my entry about it, people have listed their suggestions, (Phoebe’s is another popular one – and closer) but Ruxley Manor is my favourite for all-round experience.

If you don’t drive, your choices are more limited. I have bought a nice tree from Sainsbury’s in the past, struggling it home with a friend, one at each end, and, believe it or not, having a pretty festive time of it (it helped that we had mince pies and mulled wine waiting for us at the end of it.) The choice is good, but I don’t know about their sustainablility policy or where they’re brought in from. Ditto B&Q – though it’s that much further up the road to lug it.

I can’t help feeling we should be supporting local shops though and I’ve seen several with the odd tree outside. What you lose in choice you make up for in convenience and smugness.

Last year, I ended up buying mine from my favourite DIY shop at the Blackheath Standard – Standard DIY is a fantastic traditional hardware store – which sells all sorts of unlikely things and often stocks oddities that the big DIY barns don’t bother with. The guy is extremely friendly and helpful and last year he even delivered mine, the last one in the shop, (yes – I’d left it really late) for nothing. I don’t know if he’s doing the same thing this year but it’s worth an ask.

I’ve just received the email from Blackheath Farmers Market saying there will be a stall selling home-grown Christmas trees. That sounds utterly lovely – and very festive.
One other thought – you might want to give Woodlands Farm Trust a call – they might have brought some in to make a spot of cash for the project…

Any other ideas, guys?

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