Nestled on the leafy borders of County Durham and North Yorkshire – in the charming childhood village of Lewis Carrol – lies Croft Christmas Trees. A destination for real, sustainably-grown Christmas trees for over 25 years and now the region’ largest supplier. Our editor pays a visit to its festive estate to find out more…
The magic of Croft
Year after year, Croft Christmas Trees goes the extra mile to make Christmas tree shopping an experience to remember.
Its picturesque countryside estate – known as the Croft Estate – opens its doors to the public every November and December, giving visitors the chance to pick their very own home-grown tree from a beautiful viewing area, shop the finest decorations from its enchanting on-site Christmas Tree shop and enjoy merriment-packed events within its grounds to help celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.
At Croft, it’s an all-year-round affair, during which the business’ passionate and expert team plant and harvest thousands of trees in time for the Christmas rush from its very own Christmas tree plantation.
The tree farm – which now spans over 100 acres – is the shining star within its festive offering, home to trees of all shapes, sizes and varieties and driven by sustainability and tree welfare.
“We nurture our trees over an eight-year cycle just to grow a six-foot Christmas tree. It’s a real labour of love and we always try to give our customers fresher-than-fresh, just-cut trees,” says Steph Braithwaite.
A leading figure within the business for over two decades, Steph works closely with its dedicated farm team and has been instrumental in its development and success over the years.
“In most years, we are planting more than we harvest and this year we planted a staggering 22,000 trees,” she explains.
“We have a huge number of repeat customers – some of whom have been coming to us for nearly three decades. Our customers know that our trees have been grown sustainably and with care.
“Today, we are a firm part of the Christmas tradition for many families and often see three generations visiting us, carefully choosing their trees together. It’s just so lovely to see.
“We always advise people to care for their Christmas tree as they would freshly-cut flowers and our team is on hand to educate as many customers as possible about how to look after their tree at home.”
The beating heart of the business, Croft’s farming enterprise spans well in excess of 1,000 acres of fertile soil – the place in which carefully-chosen seeds transform into the most important Christmas decoration of all.
Here, tree welfare is paramount to try and ensure the freshest, healthiest and highest quality trees are on offer – everything from the well-known Nordmann Fir and Norway Spruce to the Blue Spruce and smaller pot grown trees.
From the seed itself, to the sourcing of the saplings, the planting and the growing, each tree is carefully looked after until it’s ready to be cut.
“Each one is looked after by human hands,” says Steph.
“We do use machines where they add value to help us grow and look after the trees, but much of the work – including the planting, pruning and cutting – is done by our skilled team, using traditional methods.
“Our trees are harvested for the shop throughout the few weeks in the run up to Christmas, so that the trees that are available for our customers are as fresh and as healthy as can be.”
“Re-planting as many as, or more than, we harvest – that’s also a big part of our sustainable ethos and our eco-conscious commitment,” she adds.
“Our environment is never far away from our thoughts and we always seek to work responsibly and ethically.”
A visit to remember
Croft Christmas Trees has developed significantly over the years, evolving into what is now considered a winter wonderland-like destination for families all over Yorkshire and the North East.
Promising a picture-perfect journey into all things merry and bright, it features an alpine-inspired seating area where visitors can cosy up with mulled wine, hot chocolate, mince pies and more, as well as its very own shop, filled to the brim with ornate Christmas decorations.
Beautiful and colourful enough to give Santa’s workshop a run for its money, it’s the place to be for interiors-lovers in search of unique baubles and ornaments, twinkling lights, luxury wreaths and garlands and the finest stands to help them display their chosen tree.
“We like to showcase various collections and styles to give customers lots of great ideas around how to dress their trees at home,” says Steph – who also happens to be the mastermind behind the shop and its whimsical, curated collections.
“We hope to have something for everyone. The Woodland collection has a rustic fantasy feel and features toadstools and wildlife, whereas the Ski Lodge collection offers winter whites and soft greens.
“We also stock Alice in Wonderland characters, which are popular as they have a local link – Lewis Carrol lived in the rectory at Croft.
“We feel it’s so important to offer visitors an exclusive and unique range of decorations so they don’t have to travel far to find them.”
Every year, Croft Christmas Trees invites locals and visitors to join them in their seasonal celebrations. 2023’s calendar is packed with special events for all ages, including a heartwarming nativity event on December 7th from 6pm and a classic carol service on December 14th from 6.30pm.
Croft Christmas Trees is open now until December 20th. For more information and to check opening times, visit croftchristmastrees.com