Pick your own Christmas Tree | Tasmania
After moving out of home several years ago I agonized over buying a plastic tree. Did I really want one? Would it be worth buying a cheap one? One to tie me over until I could justify spending a bit more to get a fancy one that looked a bit more "real"? It was a tough call. In the end neither was the right choice for me and for the last few years I’ve been setting up a real, live tree in my living room. They make a statement and they stink of Christmas - they make me bloody happy.
For those who think they make too much mess… this couldn’t be any further from the truth. As long as you keep the water up to them (especially the first few days) they shouldn’t drop too many needles.
Two Tasmanian farms making the real Christmas tree a reality for Tasmanian families are Killiecrankie Farm at Glengarry in Northern Tasmania, and Richmond Christmas Tree Farm at Richmond in Southern Tasmania.
Read on for more information and images from each farm:
Richmond Christmas Tree Farm
Richmond Christmas Tree Farm is owned and managed by Jared and Natalie Mendham. The farm is situated in the Coal River Valley. It’s a scenic spot half an hour out of Hobart, just past Richmond. Their trees were planted nearly four years ago and are finally ready to be sold. 2015 is their first year of trading and the trees are looking fabulous!!
The Mendhams were inspired to create a Christmas tree farm after living in Canada. Here they quickly adopted the popular tradition of visiting Christmas tree farms, where they would pick the tree of their dreams for the festive season. On moving back to Tasmania the goal has been to provide this experience to Southern Tasmanians. The Mendhams aim is to provide an authentic Christmas experience for families, couples, or friends. A time amongst the Christmas rushing, shopping, and stressing to relax. Where you can plan a trip and spend some time outdoors with your loved ones and have some fun. Natalie cites excited kids running through the rows trying to find the best tree, or adults taking their tree selection very seriously by debating the finer differences between tree 'A' and tree 'B' as some of her favourite aspects of people getting into the spirit of Christmas tree shopping.
As you can imagine, December is a busy time for the Mendhams, getting all those trees ready for their new homes. The tree is such a pivotal part of Christmas for most families and the Mendhams do everything they can to ensure they’re creating a quality product. After Christmas the family gets to take a break before planting and pruning happens again in July. Luckily after the seedlings are established they don’t require much additional watering or feeding. This is one of the reasons farming Christmas trees is so great in Tasmania. It’s quite sustainable. Everything is done by hand and the Mendhams credit their family and friends as their biggest helpers.
Being situated in the Coal River Valley means there is so much to do and see - just look at the dramatic Australian backdrop to their farm (see the images below this article)! You could easily make a day of it and incorporate a nice lunch at one of the nearby wineries into your tree selection outing. Could it get any better?
You’ll find Killiecrankie Farm in Glengarry, 30 minutes from Launceston and 45 minutes from Devonport. It’s owned and managed by Lee and Chris Ringk. As well as Christmas trees the farm incorporates a perennial nursery and a Wiltshire Horn sheep herd.
Lee’s background is as a Sustainable Environmental Management Scientist. Her horticultural knowledge is exceptional and she broaches the farm and Christmas trees in quite a scientific manner. There is a focus on sustainability. Ensuring that the customers, as well as the environment, come out number 1.
Lee and Chris are firm believers in letting nature take it’s time without the input of excess fertilisers and irrigation. To let the plants and trees grow at their own rate, sustainably, respecting the farm environment and the resources they need. For the last few years customers have been able to return their trees to the farm after Christmas. These are then wood-chipped and used to mulch next year’s trees - a great full circle initiative.
The Christmas trees were first planted on Killiecrankie Farm eight years ago. The farm was the first in Tasmania to offer beautifully clipped and shaped trees. This year is their 5th birthday and the farm is looking really beautiful and very established. What remains of the very early pine plantings still stand. Lee tells me that these groves of now large pines offer shelter to their sheep - particularly during lambing season.
Now that the farm is more established Lee and Chris have been able to start focusing their attention on landscaping. They've planted hedging and are experimenting with different pine varieties. They now have a few rows of Douglas Firs, but these beauties take eight years to reach mature Christmas tree height. They won't be ready for a few years yet and will be a particularly special product. The perennial nursery also makes a beautiful addition to the farm. It being a riot of colour at this time of year.
The first tree cut down on the farm each year is always chosen by Lee and Chris’s young family. This gets set up on the first of December. The family understand just how magical the tree selection is.
In Lee’s words;
“One of the reasons we went into the ‘Choose Your Own Christmas Trees’ was to remove the tree selection from the pressures of Christmas - enjoy the bird song, visit the silly sheep, take a picnic, wander the woodland. We don’t want the tree selection to be an onerous activity, but something people actually look forward to, like a drive to the Country.”