3 Dec 2016

A real tree this Christmas?

From This Way Up, 12:15 pm on 3 December 2016

There's nothing quite like the smell of a real Christmas tree ... or the dried up needles all over the floor ... or the trying to get one into a 12th floor inner-city apartment. 

That's why so many people nowadays are choosing the easy-care option: an artificial tree that can be folded away in a cupboard for 350 days every year until its glorious, festive unboxing.

Monica and Paul Mallinson aren't scared of needles. They run a business growing real Christmas trees in rural Wairarapa. Every year they sell nearly 1000 different firs, spruces and pines, all grown on their 4-acre section.

They are just heading into the crazy time of year for them: the few weeks leading up to Christmas when they do just about all their business. And it all started last weekend when people came to choose the trees they want to decorate in a few weeks' time.

“We’re open for business in December and come December 24 the demand drops to zero quite quickly! Absolutely just plummets”, Paul says.

The rest of the year is spent tending to trees coming to a saleable age and replanting – in May and June Paul will plant about 1000 new seedlings.

He says if you’re looking for a tree, fresh is best. Don’t buy one that’s already wilted and when you get it home cut off another couple of centimetres from the base and keep it watered – otherwise you’ll have a carpet of needles in the house.

Despite being frantic at this time of year, it suits Paul.

“Everything happens in a short space of time. With trees you can go away for 3 months, it’s an activity I have a lot of control over.”