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, July 26, 2012

Another silly office sign...

Following on from the delightfully batty "what do we do with this wall?" sign that I saw this spring in a delightfully batty office, I've spotted another bizarre office sign, but this time in a quiet legal office in Winchester.

One can only speculate on what incident led to this sign being installed, and also what the patent application looks like.

If I see any more batty signs while doing maintenance or deliveries, I'll post them here.

Before I had a camera phone, I did once see a very elaborate illustrated notice instructing people on the use of the dishwasher, delivered in the style of the Emperor from 'Return of the Jedi', ending "Now witness the power of a fully armed and operational dishwasher!". No prize for guessing that was an IT office...


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

House plant advice forum

I was looking at the statistics for this blog last night  - having found I had the ability to - and was quite interested by the stats on how people had come to be here. Most had clicked through from Google unsurprisingly, but I didn't realise I could see what search terms they had used.

It's clear that many of you have come here looking for advice on houseplants, though very few have ended up clicking my email link at the bottom and asking for it. You probably think that as I have a business to help run that I won't reply, but I'd give it my best shot.

However, I feel I ought to link to a houseplants discussion forum for you to go to.

Try this one

I've also placed a link to it on the right so it'll always be there when you need it.

It's a US based forum, so talks about some products we don't have here, but they seem to be very good at ID'ing plants and there are some very knowledgeable posters on there. I am posting as StewartsJon to try and offer a bit of experience-based advice, as some learned advice I read on houseplants bears little relation to what I find happens in reality.

What made me decide to find a houseplants forum after all these years? Well, I seem to have become the semi-official houseplants expert on the Pistonheads car forum and I got a taste for it!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Enjoy the hot weather while it lasts

Wow, it's 32 deg C in my office, and likely to be hotter tomorrow.

How quickly we British start to moan about the weather when it's what we've wanted for months! Though today I've been calling in on maintenance service customers with plants in an indoor swimming pool and a real sun trap of a roof garden so I've had my fill of it. Particular sympathy though for one of my staff who looks after the plants in a leisure centre in Bournemouth, ands spends five hours under glass by a 29 deg C swimming pool. She wears a kind of ice waistcoat thing that she puts in the freezer overnight beforehand. The things my staff do for their customers!

Anyway, I digress. I took this photo from Bournemouth Pier at the end of April, while walking up to our client at the end of the pier. Yes, the same client that we did a very challenging install for in August 2008.

This time we were delivering two artificial palm trees so big that they had to be assembled in situ down there; as you can tell - just like the last time - it was a bit breezy! That's a couple hundred feet's width of foam; look at the block of flats on the left background for scale.

I imagine the beach looks a little different today...  If anyone is sitting and melting in their offices, just think what it has been like recently.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Feature plant: Yucca Elmila

My favourite plant this week is this subtly variegated Yucca called Yucca Elmila.

Here's picture of one of the very few we have in a maintenance contract. This one's in Bournemouth.

Variegated Yuccas have previously been sporadically available - there used to be one with a yellow leaf rim called Yucca Puck - but usually just as I start promising them to potential clients they disappear off the market.

However, small (1.1m) branched versions of Yucca Elmila seem to be constantly available from Holland at present and not wildly expensive (£40.00 + VAT retail).

As I said, it's a very subtle variegation; just a slightly silvery streak up the middle, but I tend to prefer that to really in-your-face two-tone plants. See below for a close up shot.

What's more, the few plants we have put in have performed very well, so Elmila can be used wherever a normal Yucca can be: in other words a sunny spot, and temperature is not a factor. So these make an ideal conservatory plant.

The problem I have with new/rare plants is getting a momentum behind them. In other words I don't tend to supply them to clients if I don't have pictures of previous ones to show them. Likewise my maintenance technicians don't tend to order them in for use on their contracts if they don't know them. So last week I bought the one I took the close up of just to try and seed some interest in the species.

But now it's here I want to keep it!


Friday, July 06, 2012

Farewell to Derek

Apologies that there have been no new blog posts for so long. Since April we have been extremely busy, and such activities as updating the blog sadly take a back seat.

In May we reluctantly bid farewell to one of our technicians: Derek, who on the occasion of his 65th birthday was out of the door like a rabbit out of a trap, after ten years' service.

Those of our customers who were lucky enough to have him as an allotted technician will know that despite appearing to be the grumpiest sod on the planet (as this picture of him 'enjoying' a big lunch in one of our client's canteens shows), he was actually one of the funniest people I've ever met and really a bit of an old softie. By the time he left us I found almost everything he said and did funny.

He wasn't the most outstanding technician I have had working for me, but he was the archetypal 'safe pair of hands'; he could be left to get on with it and you knew it would get done, so gradually he ended up looking after our most prestigious maintenance contracts in the Bournemouth area. 

He was very popular with the clients as well. I walked in to one of his contracts once and the receptionist asked where he was. When I explained that I was only covering for him, she replied "Oh good, I wouldn't want to lose Derek, (voice drops an octave) he's very good with his hands..." To this day I've wondered exactly what she meant.

But it's not all bad news. We have started meeting up with him after work about once a month to keep in touch, so he can laugh at how busy/tired we all are, and we can gasp enviously at what an enjoyable retirement he is having.