IN OUR FAMILY, choosing a Christmas tree was always too big a decision to be left to any one member. So off we would all traipse to the Christmas tree farm, mindful of the magnitude of our annual pilgrimage. There were hectares and hectares of trees at the farm - and every one needed to be inspected. The peering, prodding and comparing could take hours before we finally reached a consensus. Timing was critical. You had to get there early, or else the best ones were gone; but not so early that the dreaded droop would set in before the big day. Fir farms might be hard to find in Hong Kong, but Pokfulam nursery P+F Garden (50 Shui Choi Tin Village, tel: 2812 0886) has the next best thing when it takes delivery of a container of Seattle Douglas and Noble firs today. Owner Charles Lau Wing-chiu says families spend at least half an hour choosing because 'children are very happy here'. It's a case of first in, best dressed. On past experience, the 400 trees will be sold out by December 15, a quarter of them to clients who put in orders as early as October. A Douglas fir standing 1.2 metres to 1.7 metres costs $488, while a Noble of the same size is $590, including a wooden stand and free delivery to Hong Kong Island. There is no delivery to Kowloon or the New Territories. If you don't mind ordering from a catalogue, there are a number of options for buying trees in Hong Kong. Central-based Anglo-Chinese Florist at 23-25 D'Aguilar Street and 50 Wellington Street (tel: 2845 4212) has been importing Douglas and Noble firs for years, predominantly for an American clientele, but increasingly for Chinese families. Noble firs are the most popular because the needles don't drop so quickly, shopowner Winnie Leung Lai-kuen says. These trees, with greyish foliage, also have strong branches allowing them to be heavily decorated. Prices start at $780, with sizes from 1.75 metres to two metres. Douglas firs are a deeper green, often chosen for their fresh green smell and distinctive conical shape. They are also cheaper, with prices starting at $650. Delivery costs $80 to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, or $150 to the New Territories. Allow $150 to $300 for the stand. When you get your tree, Leung recommends washing the stump in warm water to remove any oozing sap. Then treat it as you would a vase of flowers, topping up the water every day. If you can manage it without affecting the decorations or lights, a light spray of water occasionally will help keep the leaves looking fresh, but make sure you disconnect the lights first. Three containers will be arriving on staggered dates so if you're not too choosy about size and shape, Anglo-Chinese should have stock well into December, which will suit last-minute shoppers. However, if you want a particular size and shape, place your order now. While 95 per cent of the Christmas trees available in Hong Kong are North American varieties, one company, Abies Danica (10/F, Tak Shing Alliance Building, 115 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2574 9877), brings in trees from Denmark. These trees have dark green leaves with a slight silvery sheen, and their branches are less dense than the US types. 'In Europe we like to hang decorations deep into the tree, and also hang real candles,' company co-founder Thomas Anderson says. 'They are also long lasting. As long as they are watered and not exposed to sunlight, they have no problems surviving until well after the new year.' The company will bring in about 1,500 Royal firs this year, priced from $890 for 1.5 metres. The most popular trees are 1.75 metres to two metres, priced at $1,100, while for something really impressive, you can have a five-metre tree for $11,000. Prices include delivery, a metal stand and a free set-up service on arrival. Deliveries to Discovery Bay are available on certain days and direct-to-the-door deliveries to outlying islands are also available, although an extra charge applies. Apart from a largely European clientele, Abies Danica customers include those concerned about the environment, Anderson says. 'Our trees are grown according to strict Danish environmental laws. No forest is damaged since our trees are grown on arable farmland in a sustainable environment and are felled after seven to 12 years. They are produced in harmony with nature, ensuring the preservation of the land and its wildlife.' An alternative variety is Fraser firs from Lily Flowers (tel: 2551 3307), on Pokfulam Road near Wah Fu Estate. These trees are also from the US and have a distinctive silvery colour. A two-metre Fraser costs $1,265. Lily Flowers also sells cut Noble and Douglas firs, along with living poinsettias, popular with people in small flats, that cost $135 for a 30cm plant and $150 for 60cm.