A Tree Blether

Christmas is now well past. I hope it was a good one. On this belated festive theme I once toyed with the idea of growing Christmas trees on a small scale - a small scale business venture really - but never got round to it in the end. Maybe when I retire? There's money in Christmas trees, you see. Mind you, many years ago when we lived in a small house with a garden that backed onto woods I took it upon myself to acquire a fresh Christmas tree straight from the ground. It's not a good idea to go digging up trees willy-nilly of course, oh no, far better to pay fifteen pounds for a dead and rootless one instead, but I was young, impoverished and full of justification for such a dastardly deed; and anyway it was self-sown, on land soon to be quarried and nobody would ever know, or so I reasoned at the time. I would replant it after the festivities were over of course, though not in the same spot to be bulldozed by the quarry men, oh no, certainly not, what a waste, but in a secluded area of the garden to be re-used again next year. That's re-cycling for you!

So one afternoon in mid-December I set off into the gathering dusk with a spade in one hand, a torch in the other, and a mind full of improbable excuses just in case I was unlucky enough to meet anyone else out and about at that time of day.

As I wandered gaily along (looking for all the world like a suspicious character about to dig up a Christmas tree to lug back to the fireside) I saw other shadowy figures in the half-light of that crisp afternoon. We passed each other like ships in the night, heads down, silent, possibly the odd Highland grunt of acknowledgement, possibly not, but all seriously intent on anonymity. They were "at it" in the woods, doing the same as me, Christmas time was looming, the spades were out, the goose was getting fat. I even spotted a tree in the distance bobbing along under its own steam with a most peculiar loping gait. Surely, I reasoned, somewhere beneath that foliage there must be a person with a spade, for how else could it move like that - how else could it move at all!

Once the tree was up, neatly positioned beside the fireplace and bedecked in festive spangly things, we eagerly anticipated the arrival of the 'The Bearded One' - Santa - who always appeared on Christmas Eve (between 6 and 7pm) sitting comfortably in the back of a pick-up truck dispensing lollipops to the children of the district in exchange for a wee dram from the adults of the household. Ho, ho, ho. By the time he'd reached our house many a lollipop had been dispensed, many a wee dram quaffed, and he'd subsequentially adopted the ruddy and brazened look of a festive beacon.

But gone are the days of jolly Santas in pick up trucks - more's the pity - although in certain parts of the country, prior to Christmas, the odd wandering conifer can still be spotted in the gathering dusk of a late afternoon. Some traditions never die out, do they? Not completely.

(Copy write 2002. Patrick Vickery)

Patrick Vickery runs a small garden nursery in the Scottish Highlands growing and selling hardy perennial plants. His first book was published in January 2002 by Capall Bann Publishers, UK: "In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden" (ISBN: 186163 1480)

A book about propagating and growing hardy perennial plants outdoors in an environmentally friendly way using an innovative raised bed system, about how to make your garden self-financing, and even how to sell surplus plants if you so wish.

The book is available via the internet from Amazon Books, from Capall Bann Publishers or from bookshops of course.

Capall Bann Publishers

Amazon.co.uk

Patrick's e-mail: aldieburnplants@aol.com