Hillier Christmas Trees - a Decade in the Making

Once you have chosen your Christmas tree this year and carefully positioned it in your home, take a moment to reflect on the life it has led up to this point and the near-decade of expert care it has received so it is at its very best for your festive display.

A Specialist Crop

Christmas trees are crops grown on specialist farms, just like cauliflower or wheat. They are not cut down from wild forests but come from environmentally managed plantations. These plantations often stretch across rolling hills, where Christmas trees grow best - terrain that is often unsuitable for other crops.

You may be amazed to discover that a six-foot tree takes just under a decade to grow. During this time, it will provide many benefits to the environment; cleaning the air, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing clean oxygen. Each ten acres of Christmas trees grown produces the daily oxygen requirement for over 150 people. Once a tree is cut down, the farmer will plant at least one in its place. 

One of the expansive family-owned Needlefresh Christmas tree farms, where many Hillier Christmas trees are grown and cared for 

Starting from Seed

All Hillier Christmas trees start their life as specially selected seeds. These are then nurtured into seedlings before being planted out in the fields of a select number of specialist Christmas tree growers in Scotland. A great deal of love and care is given to the seedlings as they grow. A lot of this work is done by hand, which means each tree is treated individually and the impact on surrounding wildlife kept to a minimum.  

After the tree has been growing for about three years, pruning can begin. Each tree is individually shaped every year with great care taken to select a straight leader. Pruning encourages the remaining buds to grow more vigorously; this produces lots of branches making the trees bushy and uniform. The bottom branches are removed from the trunk, which makes it easier to mount in your stand at Christmas. This also maximises airflow and helps to control fungal diseases. 

Christmas tree plantations are a valuable habitat for wildlife. Flora and fauna shift with the 10-year rotation of the crop and all growing methods are specially selected with the aim of keeping any impact to a minimum.

Selection and Delivery

Come September, the trees begin to be selected for harvest. In November, they are then felled by skilled chainsaw operators. They lie in the field for two days after being cut to stop them transpiring and to minimise overheating during transportation. After this, the trees are netted by specialist machines designed to prevent damage - each machine can net about 4,000 trees per day - then transported to the yard for final selection and packing.

All Hillier trees are as fresh as possible because they are delivered into centres shortly after cutting, where the great care for the trees continues.

Your Christmas Tree Experience

When you visit your nearest Hillier Garden Centre, you will see the Christmas trees carefully arranged in the outdoor plant areas; or our Hillier Christmas tree 'forests' as we like to think of them, filled as they are with the beautiful fir-tree scent. The varieties and heights are clearly labelled, making it easy for you to find the right tree and Hillier staff will always be on hand to give help and advice. The trees have been un-netted so you can have a thorough look at them to make your choice.

Once you have selected your perfect tree, we will tag it, net it and keep it safely aside for you. This means your hands are free to continue browsing or enjoy a hot drink in our Restaurants. Simply bring the tag to the till when you are ready to go. We will carefully carry your tree to the car for you and bid it - and you - a fond farewell. 

Real Christmas trees arrive at Hillier Garden Centres in mid to late November. Explore our range of UK grown real Christmas trees for 2020 here and make a date in your diary to visit and select yours.