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Tree wise men A tree is not just for Christmas

Would you rent a Christmas tree?  Michael and Adrian Christen decided last year to do something about the fact that every year in Switzerland more than a million trees are thrown out after Christmas and die.

Michael, who owns a garden centre in canton Bern, and his brother Adrian, a forester, decided they would rent out Christmas trees. Customers order a tree online – choosing from five sorts – which is then delivered, planted and picked up again after the holidays. accompanied Michael and his father as they made their festive deliveries.

The smallest trees, around a metre tall, start at CHF72 ($72) and the largest are around 1.80m. They can be used around six times, “after that they get too big”, according to the brothers. They are then planted one last time and left to grow.

Almost all of the 350 trees available at have already been reserved, the brothers say, explaining that people have various reasons for renting Christmas trees: some like the thought of a tree being re-used; some give environmental reasons, pointing to the large number of trees that need to be imported; others, particularly old people, just find it convenient.

Not that temporary owners can just sit back and do nothing: the trees should be watered daily. Even then, the stress of Christmas – and change in temperature – can be too much for around 10% of trees.

(Pictures: Christoph Balsiger,, text: Thomas Stephens,

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