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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Replacing a big old tree

I thought I'd do a multi-photo story of the difficult plant replacement job we did in two mornings in the last week.

If you are a maintenance customer of ours, you'll know that we are constantly replacing plants in your office, without charging you or needing your approval.

This contract was a little different as it was a four metre high tree, and the contract did not include plant replacement, due to its size and cost.

So having gained the client's approval and chosen a tree (at this end of the market you can get pictures sent from the grower of the individual trees), we first had to remove the old one.

That's the tough bit. This tree has been in its pot in an office building between Bournemouth and Poole for over ten years, so as you can imagine it had quite well-developed roots.

The technique is always to dig as much soil out round the sides of the rootball as possible, cutting the roots you encounter as you go.

It's slow, laborious work. The goal is to get down low enough that the rootball can be rocked from side to side, so the the roots underneath can be severed and the whole rootball can be lifted out.

We got to lunchtime, though, and it just wasn't coming. In the picture of Debra and I to the left, we've just about got it moving but we'd found it to be rather wet and consequently heavy.

We sat outside eating our lunch trying to work out how to get it vertically out of the pot when we could barely move it, and I decided to get inventive. Having a large and extremely robust A-frame ladder in our van, plus a couple of webbing straps for securing deliveries, I positioned the ladder over the pot, attached the webbing straps to the strongest points on the top, then threaded them through holes in the cut-off trunk. Then we used the webbing straps as pulley ropes to lift the rootball as high as we could, before locking it in place with the ratchets. We were then able to slide the pot to one side as shown.

Don't I look proud of my trophy (and also very dirty!). This pic reminds me of the first post I did on this blog some eight years ago.  Annie - our new recruit - seems amused!

Once we returned to our Wimborne base, we cleaned the pot thoroughly; here I am again getting right in there!

Finally, as you can see in the last picture below, we returned with a new tree a few days later. This was a far easier operation, though the tree when delivered was much bigger than expected so had to be pruned quite hard in order to fit in our largest delivery vehicle ( a 7.5 tonne lorry borrowed - with driver - from Stewarts Nursery. Thanks, Scott!

Sadly, this photo doesn't really do it justice; because of its position in an atrium in front of the staircase, it's hard to get a position where we can take a good photo of it.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Featured plant: Calathea Triostar

This lovely-coloured plant is called Calathea Triostar, though for a long while it was Stromanthe Triostar.

Whoever it is that decides what plants are called occasionally changes the name of a plant, based on what information I'm not sure.

As this happens over a period of years, you can work out how long someone has worked as a maintenance technician, based on what they call plants.

Though to muddy the waters further, some plants revert to their original name, after a holiday being called something else...

Anyway, I digress. Most Stromanthes are troublesome beasts - I think they need much higher humidity than the average office provides. S. Triostar is much more tolerant of dry air, though it does need better-than-average light to thrive.

While they come in as a low clump like the ones pictured, when mature they send great leaf-topped spikes upwards and get to be quite a chunky plant. Like other plants in the Maranta/Calathea/Stromanthe grouping, they also curl up and droop their leaves at night somewhat. I've always fancied setting up a stop-motion film of some over 24 hours to see it happen in a short period.


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Jonathan on the move

If you're wondering why the blog has been very quiet for a while it's because I have been out and about almost every day in the last month.

We are a small team, small enough that only person can be on leave at once. So when someone goes on long-term sick leave, it's a little tight getting all the work done.

Especially when that person, by virtue of living in Eastleigh, has many of our furthest away jobs.

But at Stewarts, we never miss a fortnightly maintenance visit. So I have been getting up early and going from my home on the border of Dorset and Somerset most days and driving to sites in such places as Basingstoke, Hook, Weybridge, Southampton....I'm getting tired just reading this!

So I illustrated this post with a picture of my trusty VW van, as that's what you will have seen a lot of in those areas of the country of late.

Said trusty van, on 106,000 miles, is about to go back to the lease company, and Stewarts have bought me a shiny new one which arrives in a couple of weeks. So all my hard work of late has not gone unnoticed. Or maybe they just want to make sure I can keep doing the miles?