GARDENING: Christmas trees the same around the world
Well it is only five sleeps to Christmas, and the centre of attention of most households is now the humble Christmas tree, or is it the presents beneath.
This is quite common though with little ones around the world.
While Australia has followed very closely the European traditions, many Australian plants will make a beautiful hardy Christmas tree.
Over recent years many Australian native plants have become very popular replacements for the traditional pines and firs as Christmas trees
But for now some of the most popular Australian Christmas trees being used are the Norfolk Pine or Araucaria excelsa, the Lilly Pilly hybrid called Bush Christmas, She oaks like Casuarina cunninghamiana and the Black Cypress or Callitris endlicheri.
Did you know that many Australian natives are being exported around the world to be used as Christmas trees?
A good example is the popularity of the Queensland Bottle Tree, or Brachychiton repestre, in Japan to help celebrate the festive season.
Artificial trees are still the most popular but many families like to use trees like the Japanese maple or Japanese cedar.
Christmas trees grown in nurseries in the United States are also exported to Japan, most trees are usually small enough to fit on a table.
The Japanese will decorate their Christmas trees with an array of paper ornaments like origami swans as well as miniature candles, paper fans, lanterns and wind chimes.
So if you are like me this weekend thinking ‘what sort of tree we should use as Christmas Tree’ here are some suggestions.
Agathis robusta or The Queensland Kauri Pine is typically an upright symmetrical tree growing between 30 and 50m high.
The pinkish to copper new growth of the Queensland Kauri Pine can be a feature to the tree. This tree will prefer a deep, fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or light shade and is able to tolerate light frosts.
The Queensland Kauri Pine is found naturally in parts of Queensland, the Atherton Tablelands and around Maryborough and on the Fraser Island.
Araucaria heterophylla or Norfolk Island Pine is a coastal icon tree used around the world. It differs from the Hoop pine in having a much more formal branching pattern, and the foliage is much less prickly.
Like the Hoop pine, the Norfolk Island Pine too can be found growing from almost the shoreline to the mountain ridges.
The Norfolk Pine could quite easily be grouped amongst the world’s most popular indoor plants.
Brachychiton rupestis or the Narrow Leaf Bottle Tree is regarded by many native plant enthusiasts as the king of the Brachychiton family.
This spectacular looking tree with a bottle shaped trunk can grow to 12 metres in height when mature with juvenile growth up to two metres in the first two years.
When flowering during summer the Bottle tree is almost deciduous.
The white bell shaped flowers are very unique and have mauve markings in the centre.
It is frost hardy once established and will flourish in most climates throughout the world.
Callitris endlicheri or Black Cypress Pine is a Central Queensland native with bright green foliage.
This pine can reach a maximum height of about 15 metres.
Callitris endlicheri branches are erect sometimes spreading and with bark that is tough and deeply furrowed.
Casuarina cunninghamiana or River She-Oak is a medium to tall tree with dense branches and fine leaves.
Small red flowers appear followed by small cones.
Casuarina cunninghamiana is fast growing, adaptable, frost resistant and hardy that is suited to clay soils and for windbreak plantings.
Flindersia australis or Crows Ash is quite a large tree, growing in a pyramid shape that is more suitable for a large yard.
Flowering in spring with dense bunches of white flowers with brown centres.
Followed by a seed pod that is a floral artists dream.
The Crows Ash makes a very good tub specimen.
Gymnostoma australianum or Daintree Pine is a rare, native and collectible pine endemic to a restricted area of the Daintree Rainforest.
The fine green foliage is soft to touch with ends often tipped with small pine cones.
The Daintree Pine has a natural conical shape that is perfect for landscape features or as tub specimen.
Podocarpus elatus or Brown Pine is a tall tree, growing in excess of 10m has long narrow dark-green glossy leaves, and can be grown in most positions in Central Queensland.
Although this tree is closely related to the pine family, it does not produce a cone, but bears small purple to black fruit which are quite edible.
The Brown Pine can be grown a tub plant for many years without repotting.
Syzygium Bush Christmas is a hybrid form of Syzygium australe that forms bushy shrub for moist soils.
This shrub will become covered in white flowers in summer followed by red berries.
It will growing to 5m high and is good for bushy, fast growing windbreak or specimen plant. The leaves are glossy and have a crinkle in them.
Wollemia nobilis or Wollemi Pine was growing when the dinosaurs ruled the land and is sometimes called the Dinosaur Tree.
In the Wollemi National Park it numbers only 38 mature specimens, each said to be more than 1000 years old and with a trunk diameter of more than a metre.
The pine would be best grown as an alternative Christmas tree or in a protected and sheltered position in a garden that can handle a large tree.
But have you ever wondered where the tradition of having Christmas trees as part of the Christmas celebrations came from?
The tradition of Christmas trees goes back over 1000 years, to when Scandinavian people, who, prior to becoming Christians, worshipped trees.
After becoming Christians, they made evergreen trees part of their Christian festivals.
The legend of the first Christmas tree is told about an English missionary, travelling through Europe about 1200 years ago, who found a group of heathens about to make a sacrificial killing to the god Thor, under an oak tree.
The missionary stopped the sacrifice and cut down the oak tree, and as the oak fell, a young pine tree appeared.
He told the people that the pine was ‘the tree of life’ and represented Christ, and thus we traditionally have pine trees for Christmas.
The tradition of decorating the Christmas tree came from a different source.
On the first day of January, the Romans exchanged decorated tree branches for good luck, and this custom was adopted by the English for Christmas.
However, the German town of Strasburg, at that time it was part of France, would have to be credited with being the first to use Christmas decorations, using gilded nuts, stars, angels, toys and sweets wrapped in bright paper, selling these at their local markets.
The people of Poland also adopted the practise of decorating Christmas trees, with bright paper ornaments and candles.
On behalf of my family, and myself I would like to wish everyone a happy, holy and especially a safe Christmas.