OOTS: Oh Christmas Tree

I always find that most outdoor large Christmas trees these days tend to look a little forlorn: the barriers which surround them (health and safety reasons? to prevent vandalism? potential opportunity for sponsors advertisements) don't really help and in daylight the strings of lights look like they're trying to tie the tree down rather than looking their magical best as they usually do when it gets dark.

This year, Chippenham's tree in the centre of town has been criticised as looking 'scrawny'. I thought it didn't look that much different to previous years, though admittedly there is something a bit strange going on to the right. As usual it's been decorated with ornaments made by local schoolchildren. I wonder if this is part of the scrawny problem? The tree's quite large, so the decorations look a bit 'lost' as it would have taken the children a lot longer to make sufficient decorations to really fill the tree. Perhaps we need a smaller tree with the same amount of decoration and then it might look more sumptuous?

Elsewhere, this year's tree at the Tate Britain in London has caused quite a stir because the artist responsible for it has chosen to install an unadorned tree. According to the BBC, Georgio Sardotti is noted for art which 'celebrates the power of nothing'.

I can see where he's coming from: perhaps we should appreciate the tree for what it is, rather than having to decorate it. His thoughts chime with my suggestion about us having living, 'celebration trees' when I wrote about Poole's festive tree controversy last year. I was also amused to read he used to decorate Christmas trees for a living, so perhaps he has a stronger reaction against all of that than most of us.

In contrast Claridge's have revealed their designer tree for this year and the one on display at Jenner's department store in Edinburgh is marvellous - they needed to remove the revolving doors in order to get it into the building. Meanwhile The Daily Mail criticises the Obamas for having a tree which took over four days to decorate during an economic crisis.

Perhaps my favourite finding this year was The Telegraph's video report on the world's tallest tree in Gubbio, Italy. However, whilst it is indeed a magnificent specimen, I think their report might be a tad exaggerated: 2,600 feet seems a bit of a tall story?

What's your neighbourhood tree like this year? Real or artificial? In situ or shipped in? Decorated or unadorned? Do post a picture and show us via Mr Linky on December's OOTS kick-off post.


  1. claridges' tree is o.k.--looks more like sculpture for a shop window than anything else. but then, it's rather pink-y, while edinburghs' tree is a lovely shade of green!

  2. Not scrawny but a bit dull I thought

  3. Oh dear, that tree makes me ache to get my loppers out and give it a slight tidy - and I think you are right, more decorations would have been good. I love the different ways people approach decorating Christmas trees. I still remember the one year I tried to go "tasteful" - I bought some lovely new baubles and was aiming for white lights, modern baubles and nowt else. There was a rebellion, and we ended up using multi-coloured lights, every tree decoration we had and then my dearly beloved - egged on by his little brother - added an empty coke can. It might not have been stylish but every time I looked at that tree it made me smile remembering the decorating of it. I'm off out later, so will try and take some snaps if possible - there is a faint suggestion that we might have some sun today...

    PS WV = "crinstes", which seems christmassy to me...

  4. Petoskystone - I did think twice about including the Claridge's tree because strictly speaking it's not OOTS, but its such a contrast to the statement in the Tate, I felt it was worthwhile in the end.

    Mark - definitely dull during the day. Haven't seen it at night yet.

    Plantaliscious - hurray! Let me know when your post goes up :)

  5. I'd like big public trees with no decorations. Or . . . just white lights (not bluish ones). I think the tree in the photo looks bleak because the wires haven't been hidden in the branches so, when the lights aren't on, it looks as if it's covered in cobwebs.

    My favourite public trees are the little ones in flag-holders over shops. I'm wondering if this is a comparatively local custom though.


  6. I'm developing a "thing" about so called safety fences. they rarely protect anyone from anything and attract every vandal from miles around to try and overturn them, just for fun. I'm sure your tree would be harmless without them.

  7. Esther - those new LED white lights are quite a harsh bluish light aren't they. I prefer the small trees too - they're quite magical at night and do look good during the day too.

    The Cottage Garden Farmer - welcome :) Good point re the safety fences being too tempting for some people.

  8. Have just linked in my sad picture of a vandalised tree in Chipping Sodbury. Mind you, I also think that if you are going to have Christmas lights on trees and hanging above streets, you should keep them alight 24hrs. Not very eco I know, but is there anything more sad than a tree festooned with unlit lights on a grey day?

  9. Janet - that's a poignant reply to The Cottage Garden Farmer's comment re no barriers being OK. However, I think whoever vandalised the tree in Chipping Sodbury wouldn't have let any barriers round the tree stop them :(

  10. The tree does look in need of pruning a bit to get it more symmetrical! Nice idea to get the schoolkids to decorate it. Maybe the tree decorating could be incorporated into cross-curricular activities in a creative way so there is more time to make more decorations? (Thinking back, I'd have enjoyed maths a lot more if we'd somehow included decorating trees in it!!)

  11. Gubbio, Italy - probably true within a yard or two.


  12. Phoenix C - good idea. Sorry it's taken so long to reply.

    Richspen - thanks for that and I now understand. I see it was done as an outline on the mountain rather than being an actual tree.

  13. If you wanted to see a good display of lights then you should have headed over to Melsham or Corsham. The lights there are done by volunteers, not the council, and it shows. Both towns (Melksham & Corsham) look magical, even in daylight, Chippenham however looks grimm and it raises the question "Why bother".

    1. Hi Anonymous - our choir performed (including me) at Corsham lights' switch on. Of course Corsham has the advantage of a narrower High Street which makes the simple displays there work really well. I don't go to Melksham very often, so can't comment on those.

      As for Chippenham, I do like the lighted real Christmas trees the shops have, the lights twisted around the street lamps and the simple outline decorations. I wrote about those in another post, so unfortunately you missed those.


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