'I grew a 60 foot Christmas tree in Solihull & now it's the most viewed in Britain'

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We chat to Woods Farm about the travels of their Christmas trees from the Shetland Isles to the Channel Islands - and Britain's most viewed pine in Covent Garden London

The trail of two trees has been much longer than many of Britain’s other Christmas trees

Grown on Woods Farm – a commercial  500 acre festive forest in Shirley, Solihull – they have travelled to the most northerly and southerly points in the UK.  One was delivered last week to Shetland Isles capital Lerwick – a 725 mile marathon that took 24 hours. 

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The tree was first transported to Ayr, then shipped to the most northern part of Britain. The other headed 264 miles south to Guernsey, part of the Channel Islands. 

“To the top of Britain to the bottom of Britain,” said Geoff Gilbert who runs Woods with brother Graham. It’s a business that has been putting the needle into Christmas for close to 50 years. 

The pair are used to sending their trees very long distances. In the past wood from Woods has adorned shopping malls in Florence, Naples and Athens.  And at just over 40 feet, the two specimens were mere babes in the Shirley plantation.

Covent Garden Christmas Tree from Woods Farm in SolihullCovent Garden Christmas Tree from Woods Farm in Solihull
Covent Garden Christmas Tree from Woods Farm in Solihull | Getty Images

The one supplied to Nottingham city centre this year is a whopping 64 feet high. That’s an awful lot of tinsel and the fairy on top may suffer a nose bleed. Decorating the thing would’ve been a headache. 

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And the Woods Farm specimen on display at Covent Garden (pictured) is a 60 footer. Both had been growing for over 40 years, both could produce a mountain of Christmas tree mulch. Geoff, aged 70, said: “Apparently, the one in Covent Garden is officially the most viewed in Britain because of the number of visitors to the area.” 

Geoff Gilbert from Woods Farm Christmas Trees Solihull.Geoff Gilbert from Woods Farm Christmas Trees Solihull.
Geoff Gilbert from Woods Farm Christmas Trees Solihull. | Woods Farm Christmas Trees Solihull

The Gilberts are top of the tree when it comes to Christmas trees, with a string of VIP customers.  And they’re not just famous for producing spruce and larch leviathans. 

Woods’ Christmas wreaths have, in the past, adorned the front door of 10, Downing Street. The brothers’ pine powerhouse is the result of seriously hard graft. Each March and April some 100,000 saplings are planted. 

The estate was originally purchased by Geoff and Graham’s dad in the 1950s to train racehorses. But the brothers had an eye on the Yuletide trade from an early age. Our mother was a florist and we started out making holly wreaths,” explained Geoff. 

From there, the Christmas business took root. Now Woods’ trees have become a fundamental part of the season. Make no mistake, Geoff and Graham are kings of the fir trade. 

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