Stewarts Office Plants

We supply many businesses across the South, from Sussex and Surrey, through Hampshire and Dorset to Wiltshire and Somerset. For more information about the services we offer visit our home page, or contact us here. In this blog you'll find news, interesting snippets, stories and pictures of our staff's adventures out on the road.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

What plants do we choose for ourselves?

Our new greenhouse plants in situ
As per my recent post we are now in our fancy new greenhouse.

We are now putting the finishing touches to the place, and despite having benches full of plants for use at our clients, it was decided we should have some 'proper' plant displays adjoining our kitchen area. 

I was given the task of picking them and I chose two types of Ficus (Ficus loving light and the new greenhouse not being short of that), namely Ficus Amstel Gold (long one of my favourite plants), and burgundy Rubber Plants (ditto x 3).

The pots are 90cm high Cylinders in an old BS code green (12D45, rather uncharitably described by a colleague as 'like a 1970s bathroom suite') and RAL 4007 burgundy, the latter meant to match the chairs, and not a bad effort there.

Technician Graham has been volunteered to care for these in the full glare of his colleagues' critical eyes. Naturally, he's thrilled!


Another photo of the lovely rubber plant, showing our swanky drive through loading area!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Feature plant: Chlorophytum Green Orange

Chlorophytum Green Orange
 Time for one of my occasional 'feature plant' posts I think, prompted by ordering some of these recently.

Chlorophytum Green Orange is an unusual little plant. The basic green/white Chlorophytum is what's commonly known as the 'Spider Plant'; a very hardy little thing that easily propagates by putting out runners. So you rarely meet someone that just has one!

This one is very different. As the name indicated it has very vivid orange leaf stems. It really rather hides its light under a bushel when viewed from above, so to appreciate it best it needs to be viewed from the side. At Stewarts we tend to use it in cabinet-top
Viewed from below
troughs and bowls for that reason.

As for care, it's nowhere near as indestructible as the ordinary Spider Plant. It is a medium drinking, medium light plant that needs keeping warm as far as we can tell, and it is noticeable for going pale with age, which leads me to suspect it's a rather hungry plant, so keep well fed.

One last twist is that for some unknown reason whenever I order them from my Dutch plant supplier, each comes with its own green/orange ceramic pot. Very nice, but no use to us so they are normally sold off to the public at the Nursery's Thursday morning sale.


Love this plant and pot combination

Ficus Ginseng in S-planter
 As is my way on a quiet day I'm just going through some photos I've taken of recent installations. This was one of an install of twelve planters to an office in Bristol just over a month ago.

As an aside, the day was not without its challenges. You'll recall that before this glorious period of weather we had a week or two of very breezy weather. This office was on a narrow street flanked by very high buildings right in the centre of Bristol; the result was like a wind-tunnel.

These S-planters have a 'false base' in so the bottom half is empty, meaning they are easier to lift, but very top-heavy. Consequently it was quite difficult to stop them literally blowing away as we unloaded them.

Plus these gorgeous S-stem Ficus Ginsengs (of which there were four) were too tall to be delivered ready planted so we had to take pots, plants, compost etc. into the building and plant in-situ. Needless to say there were steps up to the building door, so everything had do be unloaded off the trolley, lifted up, reloaded... all while the wind was trying to blow us away. Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked.

I was very pleased with the outcome. I love S-planters, much more so than the related Curvy planters that are more common. I think they are slightly more subtle, but also they are much more stable, as the centre of gravity is not off-centre.

I think it's a great combination to use Ficus Ginsengs with their S-shaped stem in them too.

As for the colour (Pantone 032C for the record)? I wasn't too sure when I went to see the client. As I've said before, we often suggest we use their actual corporate colour as we did here, but the office had a lot of crimson fittings and furniture, whereas this is a pinky red. But in the long shot below I think you'll agree it works.

Nothing I can do about the view out of the window, sadly.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Our new greenhouse - at last!

New greenhouse
Well, as of about a fortnight ago, we are finally in our new greenhouse. When I joined Stewarts in 2002 it was already a plan that we were going to move to a bespoke new building on site, so our existing building could become part of the garden centre. 

Planning, overhead wires, electrical supply and many other niggles have held up the scheme but we are finally in. Though as a couple of the pics below show, there are still a few bits that are a work in progress.

Pictures tell a better story so I've attached a few of the images I've taken during the move. I say "during the move" but I had the good fortune of having a week's annual leave booked for the actual move week, so Michelle, Julie and Sandra get a well-deserved thank you for moving the plants and all our equipment across the car park.

Our plant area 

Our lovely kitchen 

My black and orange office, still not quite there!

We've had a contractor in every day until this week, this was a particularly noisy day that I took this selfie!
It really is a 'show greenhouse'; any of our existing or potential clients are very welcome to come up to Wimborne and have a look round!

Friday, March 01, 2019

Farewell, T-card board!

Bit of a silly post, this.

As long term readers will know, I have posted a couple of times about the imminent move to our new greenhouse. 

Well, it's finally only a few weeks away, and we are either transferring stock across, or furiously de-cluttering the old greenhouse.

When I started at Stewarts in 2002 the maintenance contracts were arranged on an old-fashioned T-card board. Each member of staff has a week 1 and week 2 column, then days of the week go down the left-hand side, then each client has a card. Rearranging the rotas was the (theoretically) simple act of moving cards from place.

It didn't take me long to realise I needed an electronic version of our rotas, which I rapidly created.

However some of my longer-serving staff claimed that they actually looked at this for reference, so my occasional attempts to get rid of it were vetoed. Finally at a staff meeting this week it became clear no one cared any more, so this morning I said a few words, then threw it in the metal skip.

Now no longer will I confuse the hell out of myself trying to rearrange several rotas at once, ending up with little piles of T-cards all over my desk.

I'm almost getting nostalgic already!


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Health benefits of houseplants

Stewarts' magazine for Privilege (our loyalty scheme) customers featured this excellent summary of the health benefits of houseplants, which I'm delighted to reprint in its entirety:

I have every intention from reading from this to potential clients!


Thursday, December 20, 2018

One last funny post for 2018

Being a rather late convert to Dilbert cartoons I have a habit of clicking on his daily output. 

This one being rather topical I thought would be a good postscript to 2018:

Merry Christmas everyone!


GM Houseplant to combat pollution

Epipremnum Aureum in our greenhouse

This was one of those "did I just hear that?" moments while listening to Radio 4 on my commute in.

American scientists have apparently spliced some rabbit DNA into the Devil's Ivy houseplant (Epipremnum Aureum) to make it an effective remover of indoor pollutants.

Full article here

This raises as many questions as it answers: particularly, why the rabbit, and why Devil's Ivy?

A rabbit, yesterday
 I can probably answer the latter. Devil's Ivy is a very easy plant to keep and it has long been on the list of plants that are good natural air cleaners. I don't know the science behind this, but I suspect fairly thirsty plants with large leaves are generally best. My choice would probably have been the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum), as that's usually top of the list of air cleaners. Though Devil's Ivy seems to be fashionable at the moment, which probably contributes to the choice, if I'm being cynical. 

As is customary, a little care advice. Epipremnum are an easy plant to care for. They come in sizes ranging from 12cm dia. pots to specimens grown up a mossy pole. Probably the most popular is the 'hang pots' like my image above, normally a 15cm pot with a hanger attached (though sadly we almost always detach the hanger and throw it in the plastic bin on arrival). 

Water-wise they are somewhere in the middle; what they do appreciate is a fair amount of feeding, as those trails grow at quite a rate. If they get too long, follow one almost back to the soil and cut the whole thing off. The only pest they really suffer with is mealy bug, which can be treated in the normal way. 

One thing: the roots are a little sensitive: take care when teasing them out of the pot, and once replanted it's wise to leave them for a few days to 'rest' before watering in, unlike every other plant I can think of!

As for the new GM ones, maybe a nice carrot to chew on now and then? 


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

New contender for world's biggest Boston fern?

Incontrovertible proof that someone is reading my blog!

Long term readers may recall that some six years ago I posted an image of an enormous Boston Fern that we adopted in a call centre in Havant. I rather playfully asked if it held the world record for the World's biggest Boston Fern.

A month ago, out of the blue, I was emailed by a gentleman called Edgar Fazenbaker who has sent me a couple of images of his fern which he says was at one point eight feet wide and six feet tall. It certainly looks it in the photos he sent me! 

If I ever legally possessed the World Record, Mr Fazenbaker, I relinquish it to you with a doff of my cap. The only slight question I have is whether this is specifically a Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis Exaltata Bostoniensis) as the foliage looks somewhat glossier. But I am nowhere near enough of a fern expert to sit in judgement. Perhaps six years hence someone else will email me and tell me.

As is customary, a little care advice. Boston Ferns are swamp/jungle floor plants from the tropics, so unsurprisingly it requires heat and humidity. Too much humidity, in fact, for most offices, which is why its popularity in my industry has waned as air conditioning has become more common. It also gets messy, with bits of leaves breaking of when touched. I still remember at my old firm in London caring for hanging baskets full of them over crisp linen table cloths in a high end Restaurant.

Kept wet enough, in a fairly bright location they will do OK. In fact I am happy to report that the one in the original post from 2012 is still going strong!