I've gone down the plastic tree route before, but I've never really liked the finished look. It's always been a bit ... well, synthetic, and it's never provided that wonderful pine-fresh, straight-from-the-forest smell that's so much a part of the Christmas tree experience.
Yesterday the Wonder Dog and I dragged this year's Christmas tree home. It's not a huge tree as we don't have a huge amount of space in the cosy sitting room for which it's destined, but it's a living tree with its root system still connected. And the big idea is to take it outside after Christmas and plant it in the garden, where it will hopefully grow and prosper until its services are required again next Christmas.
Last year I bought a small potted tree for the kitchen. <We spend 90% of our waking hours in the kitchen so it would be madness not to make it look festive too.> The little tree grew happily in its hessian sack/ pot until after New Year, whereupon I planted it in a great big pot outside. It added a little bit of structural shape to my patio, contrasting nicely with the crazy sprawl of the geraniums and the fan-like swell of the cordylines. I put plenty of water-retaining humus in the soil and made a big effort to not let it dry out over the summer months, and here it is today, all ready to come back into the kitchen again and help us celebrate Christmas. I'll pot it down into a smaller pot as the Leviathan that it's living in now would never fit into the niche from which it has to spread its festive cheer.
Last year I had minimal needle drop from my growing tree. Whereas when I've had a cut tree - even with watering it occasionally - I've had a covering of pine needles on the carpet that's needed regular hoovering to keep things ship-shape. I've also found it easier to water a real tree than a cut one. The soil absorbs the water whereas I've had more spillage when there's only a reservoir in a dark corner at an awkward angle to pour the water into.
And then finally in those dull, grey days when all the holidays are over and you've got nothing to look forward to - other than going back to work - you don't have the hassle of dragging your tree out to be dumped and chipped with all the other trees. That task, always symbolic of the good times ending, is substituted instead with planting your tree in the garden. And that sort of thing always gets me in a positive let's get gardening it's almost springtime frame of mind, which is so much happier.
If you are minded to go down the growing tree route, think carefully about the size. If you want your tree to last for a few years it's best not to get a real whopper at the get-go. Conifers grow quickly and you'll soon find yourself scaled up to something unmanageable. Think also about handling. I've chosen a Nordman Fir, which has soft, dark green needles that won't jag the good-humour out of me when I have to replant it, and will also look rather splendid when contrasted against the other foliage outside.
All the best for now,