The phrase “Christmas tree” conjures images of a lush, green tree, decorated with bountiful tinsel, baubles and twinkling lights.
However, for Ruth Monahan of Appassionata Flowers, this is not the case, as she has created a twig Christmas tree.
A twig tree takes a little bit longer to create rather than dusting off an artificial one from the attic, or chopping down a real one. There can be lots of variations on the twig tree, and they can be made as personal as you like. Monahan's tree features twigs foraged from Co Clare, eucalyptus from Waterford and wild heather. Air plants mimic the look of Christmas baubles, and copper-wire fairy lights blend in with the twigs very well to make them almost a surprise among the wooden sticks. Magnolia and willow are other options she says could be used with these twig Christmas trees.
“Not everyone has a huge house, or they might be going away after Christmas, so a lot of people ask us ‘What should we do?’ For me the easiest solution would be something like a twiggy tree where you can hang your favourite decorations and put it in the kitchen, or the corner of the sitting room, add some lights and hey presto, you’re done.”
It’s also an option to have a smaller twig tree in your hall or on the mantelpiece, or to effectively have a “back-up tree” should a real tree not age as well as you had hoped.
“A lot of Christmas trees now have only a finite time, with under-floor heating and global warming the trees do not last as long as they should, so some people might create their second alternative Christmas tree as the ‘just-in-caser’ if they’re having people over later in the season.”
Monahan drew inspiration from Nordic countries, where simpler trees are very popular. “The Nordic countries tend to use twigs a lot at Christmas time, some twigs and lights, because they’re very much about bringing the woodland inside and the outside in.”
This caught on throughout northern Europe, and is how the Christmas tree that we know today came to be. "The first Christmas tree was given to Queen Victoria by Albert. There was even a picture taken at the time and that's where the tradition came from. He was German, so it was a tradition in Germany, he brought the tradition to England and it just took off. He had real candles lit on it and everything, but I wouldn't recommend anyone to do that!"