The Christmas tree is up and looking magical over in our beautiful cafe and event space, Crane’s Kitchen. This year, our tree has been kindly provided by Pines and Needles – a British brand with Scottish heritage and a leading grower and retailer of real Christmas trees in the UK! Pines and Needles was founded by two brothers Josh and Sam Lyle back in 1995 when, then age just 15 and 13, they had the idea of loading an old horsebox with Christmas trees frim their family farm in Scotland and taking them down to London to sell. Since then, the company bought a second plantation in Scotland and acquired The Christmas Forest in a bid to expand its portfolio of stores in London and heightens its presence in the capital and beyond.
Today, Pines and Needles has almost 40 Pick Your Own Christmas Tree pop-up stores across London (search for your nearest store here!) and offers nationwide delivery to your door. They can even install, decorate, collect and recycle your Christmas tree too. Pines and Needles famously hit the headlines when Harry and Meghan Markle were spotted choosing a tree from Pines and Needles the first time the couple had been seen in public! And this year, Pines and Needles has supplied everyone’s favourite mental health champion Dr Alex George with his Christmas tree in his new house too! We are delighted to have one of their gorgeous trees in our cafe, plus several pop-up stores within walking distance that we can recommend to admiring visitors.
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The real deal
Nothing beats a real Christmas tree. The aroma of a fresh cut tree is a smell no scented candle can replicate. And although every Christmas is incredibly busy, the brothers’ core commitment is to make the tree-buying experience a magical occasion full of laughter, warmth, and nostalgic memories – whatever that looks like to you.
Choosing the tree
Choosing the perfect tree is serious business. Many of us have distinct memories of trying to wrestle a netted tree into the back of the car or hoisting it over our shoulders before setting out on the long arduous winter expedition home (a walk that would usually only take 10 minutes) carrying the precious cargo. Then there is the matter of getting it into the room of choice. The delicate art of positioning it so that it stands upright; best side facing forward. Fanning out the branches for maximum breadth and planning which branches look particularly good for hanging decorations on.
If you see this as all part of the fun, Pines and Needles is only all too happy for customers to come along to any one of their pop-up stores and take matters – and their chosen tree – into their own hands. However, their unique London delivery service also gives people the option of choosing a tree in person but having it delivered to their door. For anyone living further afield or unable to visit in person, Pines and Needles will hand select your perfect tree and deliver it anywhere nationwide. Their professional decorating team can even install and decorate the tree so all you need to do sit back, relax and soak up the festive magic!
Caring for your Christmas tree
However, since Pines and Needles supply real Christmas trees, there is one thing you have to take charge of. And that’s caring for your Christmas tree. Christmas trees are similar to cut flowers. They have a remarkabie ability to absorb water by capillary action through their bark. Sawing off the bottom 1” of the trunk just before istalling the tree creates a fresh cut and opens up the pores in the bark which can block up with sap within a few hours of being cut. Did you know the reason a fresh Christmas tree smells so strong is due to the movement of sap throughout the tree, which begins to slow down and eventually stop altogether as the tree dies?
A Christmas drink
Watering your Christmas tree regularly helps it remain healthy-looking and fragrant for longer. Place your fresh tree in plain water (ignoring old wives tales that suggest adding aspirin, Coca Cola or sugar syrup!), and keep the Chrismas tree stand topped up with water. (Be aware that many dogs love to drink from the stand!) This is very important as once the water level drops below the tree’s trunk, sap will re-seal the bark within a few hours preventing the tree from drinking any further water even if you then re-fill the stand. Your Christmas tree may drink 1-2 litres of water per day depending on size and your central heating settings! Position your Christmas tree away from any heat sources such as radiators and fireplaces which will dry out your Christmas tree faster.
The life of a tree
Did you know that real Christmas trees have a smaller carbon footprint than fake ones? Although artificial Christmas trees can be used year after year, a 6.5ft artificial tree has a carbon footprint equivalent to about 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions – which is more than twice that of a real tree that ends its life in landfill and more than 10 times that of a real tree which is burnt. Real Christmas trees are recyclable and can be shredded into chippings used locally in parks and woodland areas. You can minimise your carbon impact by disposing of your tree responsibly. Pines and Needles offer collection and recycling. Local authorities often arrange drop-off points and collection dates too. So although a real Christmas tree may not be for life, you can certainly make the most of the life of your tree!