As we approach the festive season, one thing that families think about is “what will we do for a Christmas tree?” I’ve always favoured a natural, growing Christmas tree for our family. As a youngster growing up on a cattle property on the north coast of NSW
we’d always head down to the banks of the Clarence River and find a small sheoak (Casuarina) for our Christmas tree.
Out west, I’d head out with the kids and find a white cypress pine (Callitris) growing on the roadside. Both of these Australian native trees looked good when decorated, and gave off a lovely fresh, natural smell when placed in a bucket or pot in the house. These days, I get requests in the nursery from families as we head towards Christmas-“ what can we get growing in a pot that we can use inside as a Christmas tree for a few years and then maybe plant out in the garden?”
My two favourites that meet these requirements are the Wollemi pine and the dwarf Alberta spruce. The Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) is a critically endangered Australian native conifer-discovered in a canyon in the Blue Mountains in the mid 1990’s. They can be found in some nurseries and can be grown in pots for a couple of years where they will reach up to about 2m high. I have one
growing really well in our garden in a spot protected from hot, drying winds-it’s about 8m high now and looks great when we wind some xmas lights though it.
The dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca conica) is a beautiful, dense, conical conifer with blue/green foliage. It is hardy and fairly
slow growing, with a mature size of about 2-3m high and 1m wide-so it could be kept in a pot outside and shifted inside for Christmas for many years.
Millthorpe Garden Nursery