Penny ignored our new Christmas tree until I took it outside today for a breath of air. It's a very special, delicately lovely tree and this photo doesn't do it justice.
It's a living Christmas tree and it's a kind of miracle, because it's a Wollemi Pine, one of the rarest and oldest species of tree in the world. This tree was thought to be long extinct, as it lived in the time of the dinosaurs and no-one had seen a living specimen until about ten years ago, when a bushwalker came across a stand of them. Less than one hundred trees exist in the wild.
When I examined it I thought it looked like a monkey puzzle tree; we had an enormous one of these in the garden of our childhood home. Sure enough, the information about the wollemi pine says it is a close relative of the monkey puzzle tree.
Here's the tree without decorations. I've heard they grow a metre a year in the open, but not so fast in the house. (They make a good indoor plant, apparently).
I'm thrilled to have found a native tree that can be an alternative to a Northern Hemisphere plant as a true representative of our Australian Christmas, which of course occurs near the summer solstice, not the winter one.
One thing I do notice is that the wollemi pine already has a second shoot growing up alongside the main one, as you can see in the photo above. If I prune it off the tree will have a better traditional shape. I was told by one man at the nursery that the tree can be pruned to shape as I wish, but another man said it was better not to cut the top off.
I guess I'll have to just wait and see how it grows.