Not too many know that Tom and Ethel Costelloe have developed a Christmas Tree Farm on their land some nine years ago and are looking forward to supplying local families with the genuine article as part of there festive decorations this year .
Tom always had an interest in trees and forestry having been a forester with Coillte Teoranta for over 40 years. He worked in locations all over Ireland returning to Ballinasloe in 1999 and working as a forester on the Sliabh Bloom Mountains in Laois and Offaly. He retired Coillte in 2015 and managed An Tain Bar in the Square for a number of years. The pub was in stark contrast to the forest life but there was a great buzz to it. “It was great craic and I met some mighty characters in it. If a half pound pike was caught in the Suck at 3 o'clock it would take two men to carry it home by closing time”, remarks Tom.
As a forester he has always been drawn to real Christmas trees as they are natural and keep with the spirit of a traditional Christmas. Growing Christmas trees present a different challenge to growing commercial trees as they need a lot more care and attention. On a small family run business here even the two children helps out on the farm .
Principal type are the Nordman Fir Trees, popular for their nice shape, needle retention and lovely fragrance in a home. They also supply Noble Fir which have a slightly different branch structure but are also a very attractive tree with good needle retention and fragrance qualities.
It takes 8 to 10 years to grow a tree and they require a lot of care and attention . Control of vegetation is key as well as basal pruning, shaping, bud picking in May and protection of the soft shoot growth in early summer from perching birds.
The sustainably managed plantation supports a lot of flora and fauna. Hares, pheasants, badgers, rabbits and song birds of all kinds use the plantation for both food and shelter. Working alongside the bumble bees and lady birds as they control the black aphids on the trees is the closest thing you will get to man and nature working in harmony. Many wild flowers like speedwell, goosegrass, fireweed, and dandelions which are a particular favourite of the honey bees grow throughout the plantation.
Tom is clear on the benefits for the ecosystem “ Unlike artificial trees, real trees can be recycled after use , creating mulch for gardens and landscaping. You can just bring it to the Council Recycling Centre and they will recycle it free of charge. Artificial trees are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable. Real trees plantations prevent global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere” he states.
They can supply trees from 3 ft high up to 11ft , with water containers and stands also, Timber Reindeer , and they can deliver and collect and recycle your tree within a 25km radius of town.
Order your tree online at http://www.buyirishchristmastrees.com They also have display and collection points at Dolans Centra on the old Athlone road and Corrib Oil in Brackernagh . Collection from the farm is by appointment only by calling Tom on 0862532320.
As a special treat to Ballinasloe Life readers who purchase a tree they are giving away a complimentary Rowan (Mountain Ash) sapling and families can help combat global warming by planting it .
“We would like to thank everyone who bought trees from my farm over the years, we really appreciate it. Christmas 2020 is an important milestone and celebrations will be special this year. If you feel like putting a real Christmas tree at the heart of your home we would be delighted to get the opportunity of supplying you with it" enthuses Tom.
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