Written by Ingrid Hoff
I have a confession, as a horticulturist I’ve been a bit of a snob about artificial plants and flowers. My ego has always prevented me from embracing anything that didn’t have roots. I mean, that is what I do, grow things. It would be downright embarrassing for me to have something artificial when I am competent and capable of handling the real thing, right? Ugg… I fully admit that I sound a bit pretentious and well… snobby. The days of artificial greenery and flowers looking obviously artificial are over, and in fact many of them are downright artistic in their quality. Why am I waxing poetic on everlasting greenery and flowers? Because this horticulture snob is considering getting a forever Christmas tree.
My opinion has been slowly changing on the issue of everlasting Christmas trees. In years past I would have scoffed at the idea. But now, with the quality of everlasting trees available and the ease of set-up and take down, I’ve decided to look into the idea a little closer. Here is my deep dive into everlasting Christmas trees.
If you start to look into the topic you will immediately be inundated with the apparent battle over fresh versus everlasting. Apparently, it’s a very dividing topic and considering the present zietgeist I think we could all do with a bit less polarity of opinion. So, here is my breakdown of the benefits of both. It is important to be armed with information and then make the decision of what works best for you and your family.
The Pros of a Fresh Tree:
- For many people the tradition of heading down to GARDENWORKS to pick out your tree is an important family event. Enjoy a warm drink and peruse the trees to find your perfect one. For many it’s all part of the joy of the season.
- The smell, enough said.
- Fresh trees are the ultimate in recyclable materials and they are extremely biodegradable. Just be sure to search out a local place to get them chipped and turned into lovely mulch (don’t send them to the landfill).
- Christmas trees are an agricultural crop and are often grown in areas that aren’t suitable to grow other crops (like underneath power lines or on sloping land). More trees growing on our planet is a good thing and even when they are cut down, new ones are planted to replace the crop.
- Each year is a new year with a new tree to discover.
Pros of an Everlasting Tree:
- No mess!
- Less work to set up. Everlasting trees have hinged branches and can be set in with minimal time and effort.
- Firm branches that hold more ornaments. The hinged branches are often much sturdier than fresh branches so can hold the weight of decorations.
- No watering required.
- Setting up early and enjoy for longer. I have to admit to a fair amount of jealousy when my girlfriends send me pictures of their everlasting trees set up and looking gorgeous at the end of November. Christmas seems to fly by and I want to enjoy it for longer.
- Reusable, they are called forever or everlasting trees for a reason. There is a lot of debate about which is more environmentally friendly fresh versus everlasting and most of the experts agree that if you keep your everlasting tree for more than eight years (but 20 is better) then the benefits to the environment start to kick in. So, when choosing your forever tree, choose carefully and make sure to invest in a quality one.
- Cost efficient, because you are using the same tree every year you can amortize the cost of your tree over many years, which has a positive impact on your finances.
- Fire-resistant! Everlasting trees are not going to dry out and become a possible ignition source in your living room. Not to get too technical but a fully hydrated tree growing in the ground will ignite at 270ºC and an everlasting tree is more in the range of 550ºC. If you live in an apartment, it’s for this reason that an everlasting tree might be your only option.
- Flexible, there are so many different sizes and styles of everlasting tree. You can find botanically correct real looking tree or a tree that nature never intended (check out the Pewter tinsel tree for a great example of this), you can find whatever suits your style. Also, there are great options for small spaces, which is a necessary consideration for many (check out the wall trees which are one-sided for placement against a wall).
- It’s your forever tree so you know every year what you are getting and there are no years when you end up with a tree that has a weird lean or a bare spot.
Also, why does it have to be one or the other? Where is the rule that says we can’t have a real tree in our living room and then have second tree in another room? Perhaps you have a Christmas crazy kid who wants a tree in their room? Maybe you’re the Christmas crazy kid? Of perhaps you want a “pet themed” tree for you dog? I don’t judge, for me the more the merrier when it comes to Christmas; whichever tree you choose, fresh or everlasting (or both if that’s how you roll).
One thing I found through my research that I felt important to share is that no matter how tempting it might be to get a pre-lit everlasting tree, you should resist. If a light burns out on a pre-lit tree then they often need to be cut off which you do not want to be doing with your forever tree. Also, a lot of light damage can happen during storage. It’s so easy to change out a light string on an everlasting tree (no irritating needle cascade) that you really don’t need to fear the added step of putting on the lights. It does give you the option to change things up each year. Consider going retro with all the colours, or perhaps a classic minimalist white, or go for broke with some of the newer novelty lights.
If you do go for an everlasting tree then just make sure to store it properly. Remove the lights, get a storage bag and find a nice cool place to keep it until next year. If you look after your investment your forever tree will last. But if you do decide to change it up and get a new one, consider donating your old one, keep it out of the landfill.
Personally, I don’t yet know which way I’m going to go but I can tell you my snobby attitude has disappeared faster than my kids can eat through a plate of homemade Christmas cookies. Forever trees are a beautiful thing even if they never had roots.