We have one pine tree here at The Outpost: a pine nut (Pinus picea). It might never produce nuts (the fact we only have one is a contributing factor), but that was never actually the point.

The point was always that the pine nut tree would be our Christmas tree. It’s why we purchased it in the first place. And the vision of going past a lit-up tree on the drive down to our (eventual) house is why it was planted where it was.

This year it felt like it was finally big enough to take up outdoor Christmas tree duties.

Two turtle doves

But there’s another pine tree – a wildling Pinus radiata – growing alongside our shared driveway. For more than three years I’ve muttered ‘I need to come up here and chop that down’ each time we passed. But for more than three years, I have failed to ever actually do that.

I’ve checked with the neighbours – they’re not particularly fussed about it, so I wouldn’t get any pushback if I cut it down. But when I asked them, they joked ‘oh no, we’ve been planning to use that as a Christmas tree’.

When I began looking at decorations for the pine nut, I realised I could give our neighbourhood a Christmas tree too.

Soon the bells will start

I’ve been haunting the Christmas decoration displays since the beginning of November. I had a vision and this wouldn’t work if I couldn’t get the right supplies. So confession time: this year I was one of those people. But I was delighted to get what I wanted.

I found red baubles, a length of red tinsel, a 3 metre string of outdoor solar lights and a packet of gold wire twist-ties.

I cut stars out of an old core-flute real-estate sign I’d commandeered and painted them gold. Then I replaced the strings on the baubles with the gold twist ties.

Lit like never before

On a nice evening in late November I put my Christmas playlist on the portable speaker and danced around my pine nut tree, applying red baubles and stringing twinkly lights.

Pine nut tree after it was decorated

It seems I have already underestimated the size of my tree and how many lights it needs, but I can fix that next year.

I was happy enough with my trial-run, so I moved onto the wildling pine.

Down Santa Claus Lane

I wanted it to be a surprise and a delight so I wanted to be a bit sneaky. So that it’s kind of like magical elves visited and decorated it.

Originally I thought I’d need to go up at sunrise before anyone was awake. But we ended up with a day where everyone was out and the weather was nice.

We took the opportunity: drove everything up on the quadbike, and took the dogs with us.

Richard strung the tinsel and I put on the baubles while the neighbour’s cows watched on.

The wildling pine growing on the driveway

And heaven and nature sing

My plan was to finally cut the wildling pine down after Christmas, but the neighbours actually do want to use it as a Christmas tree this year!

Neighbour's reaction to the tree

So we’re going to leave it for a couple of weeks. Then I’ll collect my baubles to add to the pine nut here, and the neighbours will adopt the tree for their family celebrations this year.

It’s been fun. I’m sure that over the years I’ll refine my decorations and technique, but it’s a jolly good start.