A fellow grower (hi Cathie). We grew 600 Douglas Fir trees for about 10 years on our land in a cut-your-own Christmas farm. Ours were semi-cultured, and it was quite a job to keep them pruned to an optimum shape. We employed stump culture (basal pruning), where the customer was instructed to cut above the first whorl, as I had read in Christmas Tree grower manuals. This was a bit of an iffy technique (as the scientists on this site will know). The bottom (remaining) whorl branches do turn up, the most vertical branch is selected and the others removed from the stump. We discovered that even with judicious pruning we never could get the same shape (A shaped, broad at the base, like the original tree). The second tree from the same roots was always narrower at the base than its predecessor. I've forgotten how it was explained at the time, it had something to do with the inherent growth characteristics of where the bud was, i.e. you could tip each growth early on, which produced new multiple buds (desirable in culturing) but branches weren't as strong and thick as their counterparts on the other side of the branch, which had been facing down and were now exposed to light. Only the scientists will know the reason, but the other buds were "intended" to form "interior" (darker areas) branches. Despite that, I have wonderful memories of families spilling from cars, bedecked in their toques and mittens and tall boots, dad with a bowsaw, heading out to find the "perfect tree". We didn't allow chainsaws. Christmas music was played on the ghetto blaster, and hot chocolate (and refills) kept us busy. Our young daughter took all the little kids for rides on her Snow Racer. Then came tying 6 to 10 foot trees to the roofs of cars, stuffing them into station wagons (which way, honey?), and miles of polypropylene string dispensed. Many people opted for the $5 in town delivery service, and we groaned when we saw the address was an apartment...third floor! We've winched trees up over patios and sundecks, to considerable fanfare from people whose suites the tree passed. I'll always remember how fresh the air smelled when walking through the rows in summer. Trees were spaced approx. 8' x 8' to allow for mowing of grass and, as the trees filled out, we couldn't get a mower through anymore. Then Tussock Moth hit. One-third of trees displayed the reddish top the first year and, by the next year, tussocks were crawling on the outside of our house. It was over. The remaining crop -- fortunately only about 50 -- was chainsawed and burned. You brought back some nice memories Cathie. Yup, my vote is for the real tree.