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.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Too cool for school

 So this morning we went to a primary school which was until recently a maintenance client of Stewarts, but cancelled their contract prior to the school being rebuilt.

Now the refurb is over we've been called back in to replant their built-in bed for them. We don't do many built-in beds these days as I remarked recently, unlike the last one I did, this is lovely and spiky and modern looking, and highly suitable for a south-facing window.

Anyway, when we arrived it was full of stony soil, which we dug out, then my able new assistant Michelle poured a few bags of fresh compost in before planting it with a mixture of bromeliads, Crassula (money plants) and lots of different Sansevierias (Mother-in-Law's Tongues) including six of the spirally ones I got in yesterday.

I think you'll agree the end result looks pretty good.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sansevieria 'Ayo Crown'

 As you know I'm always on the lookout for new plant species so I was thrilled to receive these unusual Sansevieria (Mother-in-Law's Tongues) in my plant order from Holland this morning.

I'd actually ordered something called S. Trifasciata which looked a bit like this, but I'm really happy with these. You can't really see in the pictures but the leaves have a red edge to them, but their big party trick is the fact that they are all growing in a perfect clockwise spiral.

I'm going to use six of them as part of the plant up of a large built-in-bed at a new contract in Bournemouth tomorrow, but these four are now on the stock bench awaiting for my staff to grab them for use in a maintenance contract.

Almost all our maintenance contracts include plant replacement as part of the service, i.e. if a plant starts to fail we just replace it. We could use the cheapest, most durable plants all the time, but as our mission statement is "to make people's workplaces look nice", that would be mean of us.

I've also managed to get some miniature Dracaena Surculosas - one of my personal favourite plants - which are usually only available as specimen plants, but maybe that's for another blog post.

Sadly, if there's one thing I've learned, it's not to get too attached to new species like these, as half the time they have dropped off the radar next time I try and order some. So enjoy them while they last!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why do we kill spring hanging baskets?

 In late May/early June, we take some glorious pansy-filled hanging baskets down and throw them away, replacing them with summer baskets that are all green when they go up, and look about half the size.

The spring baskets that only went up in early March are my favourites, just look at the ones in these pictures from a long-standing Portsmouth contract.

I spend my whole time changing these over dodging questions about why I am throwing them away, and it seems an awful shame. But I know to my cost that pansies suddenly start looking really scruffy in late June.

Sure, with the right treatment they come bouncing back, but our baskets have to look good all the time, plus you'd miss out on the glory of big, bushy summer baskets.

But I still prefer spring baskets if I'm honest. Especially as they take a lot less care.

So I do find it hard to justify my actions when I'm throwing them in the back of the van for disposal.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Aglaonema Valentine

Stop press! We have a new plant available!

To a non-plant geek, like almost anyone reading this, the discovery of an unusual variety of a common small plant (the Aglaonema, or Chinese Evergreen) would be of little interest.

When you've been doing the job for fifteen years like me, the same old plants can get a little routine, particularly plants that have any record of being reliable in normal office conditions. If you look regularly, you'll notice our portfolio of plant images remains static, as new species are a rare occurrence.  Many a time, we find a new plant and start using it, only to find it has an obvious weak point which makes it unsuitable. But the Aglaonema (or Aglo, colloquially) is a mainstay of interior landscaping as it'll cope with lowish light, customer mistreatment and a variety of watering levels. Its only weak point is needing to be kept pretty warm. But most of them, as the example picture below shows, are somewhere between green and white, wheareas the A. Valentine is strikingly red and yellow variegated.

Every maintenance technician has been issued with two of these to use as they see fit, and see how they perform in offices. Fingers crossed!

 Finally, how did I find out this species existed?

Last year I blogged about an American houseplant discussion forum that I'd joined. What I've found very interesting is that they are readily able to buy plants that we don't have in Europe, and this plant seems to be widely available there. So I tried asking my Dutch supplier and he came up trumps.