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, October 26, 2016

What a place to be kept waiting

Five posts in a day, I'm on fire! Or, as happens from time to time, I have a gap in my schedule and am filing photos. 

This sequence of pics was taken the other day when we were waiting to be allowed onto Bournemouth Pier to collect the planters that we look after right at the end. Because they would take a beating over the winter we bring them in and return them before Easter. This client has featured twice before, once when the original install went very well, and again when the weather was less than calm

On a day like this, I don't mind sitting outside, especially when I think of some of the less than salubrious industrial estates I've spend my life sat in. 

So, we were kept waiting, as the pier doesn't open until 0830 on the dot (or sometimes five minutes late...) and we turn up before then to maximise the time we have to do a fairly tricky job. As you can see, like many mornings in this lovely dry Autumn, the sky was spectacular, and more than justified taking a few snaps. You can see Laura and Michelle waiting fairly patiently in the second image. 

And finally, I never miss out on the chance to add a funny sign picture. This sits outside the door of a nearby cafe, and is very accurate in fairness:

Enjoy the good weather while it lasts.

Another handy "how to" tip

Another in my occasional series of "how to" tips for those who wish to forge a path in the interior landscaping industry.

This strikes a very similar note to my famous "how to empty an old trough" post from way back in 2012.

On this occasion I can't credit one of my staff with discovering this labour-saving technique, though I should add that the method is broadly similar to my technician's in 2012. But I did this all on my own.

The polished black pebbles we use on almost all our planters are reassuringly expensive, retailing at about £1 a kilo.

If  - on returning from an installation with some left over - you have an excess that needs disposing of, for example by evenly distributing over the ground, grab the bag by one end, pick up somewhat quickly and simply allow the other end to burst open.

The crucial technique is to be turning away from the van as this happens for maximum spread.

There, that was easy, wasn't it?


Cuckoo plant!

I was doing some greenhouse maintenance this morning and I noticed this: we have a cuckoo in the nest!

We have about a dozen of these beautiful Philodendron Imperial Red languishing on a stock bench, they have been there for the best part of a year. They are very useful for event hires that require a lot of big bushy foliage (like this one) and were bought for just such an occasion. Sadly, they are not a lot of use in our maintenance contracts, hence the languishing.

However this one has had an unusual baby, can you see? Or perhaps has a cuckoo in the nest.

Out of its rootball has appeared a single leafed Alocasia Polly (or Amazonica as we used to call them). Now this is a plant that we emphatically don't use, as they are a Red Spider Mite magnet. They were fashionable about fifteen years ago, but not since.

So this plant must have come from a seed hidden in the rootball of the Philo, which has taken
nearly a year to manifest itself. I'll leave it there and see if any of my staff either notice it, or indeed read my blog. Here's a close up:

Bespoke colour plant pots

 As I have said more than once, as most of the plant pots we use are made to order, we can have them painted in any colour you like, be it a RAL colour, a Pantone, or in fact any other colour that has a number.

Or in fact any colour at all.

All you need to be able to do is provide us with a physical sample of what you wish to match and we can replicate it. And even better it costs no more than any other colour. We can even respray your existing pots in a new colour like this for 60% of the price of a new pot.

So in the example here, this client wanted their existing matt graphite pots respraying to match the green cushions they were putting on every chair in their office. As they had swatches of the fabric available (see image below), we were able to replicate the colour very precisely; the use of a matt lacquer made this even more effective, giving their office a fresh new look.

Incidentally this is the client that ordered the blobs for the Southampton office in the post below, and tomorrow we are delivering two Blobs to the very room shown in the above image.

Green Blobs? There's a plant pot for everyone...

Meet the Blob!

Loathe as I am to detect a trend in the interior landscaping industry, we seem to be getting a lot of interest in these Blob planters.

Clients these days tend to be very clued up on what's out there, and these have probably become all the rage in London (I don't go there often).

We installed this batch of six on what must have been the hottest day this summer; not an enjoyable experience. We left a can of water outside this window in Southampton and it was the temperature of bathwater in a few minutes.

Anyway, I digress. The Blob as you can see is a rather unusual and well-named pot. This is the 2nd smallest size and is already pretty big at about 90cm at it's longest. The tree here is 2.5m high, for scale.

That tree is a Ficus Benjamina 'open braid' or 'cylinder', beloved of this particular client: a commercial landlord.  Ficuses, as I've explained before in thispost about these very trees, pretty much all need a good level of light. So these will be very happy baking in the midday sun, unlike those of us who installed them.

We already have another five in the pipeline, three for a large shopping centre also in Southampton, and two for a the client in the 'colour matching' post which follows. There is a connection there, that client is actually the head office in Poole of the landlord of this Southampton site.

So do you like Blobs? They are the very definition of a Marmite pot in my view, and off the record, I'm still not sure I would choose them myself...


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Off to London!

Our core area of work is Dorset, Hampshire and surrounding areas, but we do deliveries outside that area from time to time, as we offer national coverage using our network of partner companies who we subcontract the maintenance to.

Tomorrow two of us are off on a nice jaunt all the way in to central London with these ten planters, that we have rented to an existing Fareham client for their new office up there.

I used to do interior landscaping in the West End years ago so I'm au fait with driving in London, but I am outside my old territory on the South Bank where these are going.

As for the plant displays, as you can see they are Towers, not our old favourite Matt Graphite, but a very similar flat grey, Pantone 433.  The plants are five matching pairs including the four rather fetching Dracaena White Jewels in the front row.

It'll be a nice change, but I'll be glad to pass under the M25 and be back on our home turf afterwards.


Monday, October 03, 2016

Feature plant - Ficus Ginseng

This month's feature plant is a very fashionable one at the moment, the Ficus Microcarpa Ginseng.

Known as the 'bonsai' Ficus, I'm not at all sure whether it's entitled to use that name, but it is certainly a very stunted version of the normal Ficus Microcarpa.

Usually found as a small specimen, like these on the left in these fantastic bright orange pots, with its stem contorted into a zigzag pattern during its growth, or as a tiny little desk-top plant like the one below.

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of these; I have a (little) one at home, and frequently recommend them to clients. They are an interior landscaper's dream, as they look very classy and exotic, but - keep this quiet - they are actually a very easy plant to care for.

Treat them like a normal Ficus, i.e. keep them in as light position as you can and don't let them get too dry. Ignore the label if it spouts that cliche "plenty of light but no direct sunlight", they love it.

The only real art comes in the pruning. The little ones are easy: just keep them to a little ball shape. The big ones need the individual clumps of foliage kept separate by pruning in between them, or over time the plant turns into a solid blob of foliage, thus losing its unique look.

You may struggle to find these for sale in anything but a garden centre that specialises in houseplants. If so, get in touch - being warned that the big ones are not cheap!


Friday, September 16, 2016

Well, Christmas is over...

Obviously not, but it is over in one key sense. Read on...

This post is occasioned by my taking this photo of the first of our Christmas trees for clients being decorated in the greenhouse.

In mid-September.

In 25 deg C heat.

What's happening to the world?

As you can tell, I'm not the hugest fan of this element of Stewarts' business, but I do my best to hide it.

However, what's even more surprising is that on the day (Sept 12) that I took this picture, we had already closed our order books for trees, as we have been so inundated with orders.

In other words, if you want a Christmas tree from Stewarts, order now for delivery in December... 2017!


Thursday, September 01, 2016

Autumn is here... evidenced by the misty morning Dorset scene I captured on my phone while driving between Blandford and Wimborne this morning.

I love Autumn - you can keep Summer as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, why am I telling you this?

Because now is the time to order your winter hanging baskets from Stewarts if you want them ready to go up in early October.

The ones on the right were big 18" once from a job we used to do in Portsmouth, but we do down to 14" ones, and also window troughs, plus planting up your beds with all the winter favourites like Pansies, Cyclamen etc.

These baskets will see you through to late May when Summer ones come out again, though we recommend new baskets in late February, especially if it's been a very wet or cold winter. Spring ones are my favourite!


Monday, August 15, 2016

Workplace safety

Here at Stewarts we take safety very seriously, and we obey our many clients' requests to obey their health & safety rules without complaint, even the ones that don't make a lot of sense. For example, don't get me started on having to wear a reflective jacket to water plants in an office...

So it's quite nice occasionally to see one of our clients doing something not only a bit unsafe, but funny too.

Obviously I am honour-bound not to divulge such things, unless the Wiltshire client in question cancels their contract with us and closes the building, in which case anything goes!

So here, for your entertainment, is a self-closing kitchen door (i.e. self-closing as a fire protection measure), held open with a loop of tinsel attached to a cupboard door opposite. It was in place for many months that I sporadically visited the site. If I remember rightly the door even had a sign saying "keep closed" on it.

In a way, you have to admire the creativity, but...


MY, how you've grown!

Four years ago I did a blog post I called "How you've grown!" which featured a couple of examples of big specimen plants that have really grown.

This time I'm calling it "MY, how you've grown" because these really have excelled themselves. Sadly, to a degree where we had to dig out and replace them, as they were in a narrow brick-built bed in a client's premises in Andover, and they were wedged in solid (and took quite a lot of digging out!). So they've been a victim of their own success, sadly.

So these were four Nolina or Beaucarnea Recurvata (which ever name is currently in fashion, I can't keep up) with their woody bulbs about 40cm wide. What's incredible here is that I planted these in 2002, when their rootballs fitted in 13cm pots, exactly like the empty pot I've placed in the photo. They looked like the ones on the left. 

But they've grown just a bit since then.

Want to know about Nolinas/Beaucarneas? They need lots of light, very little water, and will tolerate low temperature, so they are a perfect porch/conservatory plant. A word of advice though: they have a rough leaf edge and can give you a nasty 'paper cut' if you run your fingers down the leaves.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Bonus feature plant: Ficus Benjamina Open Braid

Yes, I know I only did a feature plant post yesterday, but I'm just prepping these Ficus Benjaminas for an upcoming installation in Southampton, so I thought I'd talk about them, as they are a little unusual in shape.

Ficus Benjamina is of course a very common plant (common name being Weeping Fig). Usual bit of care info: like most other Ficus, these need a decent level of light, to be kept moist at all times, and they really don't like draughts, thought they can tolerate a cooler (maybe 13-14 deg C?) spot than many indoor plants.

What makes these unusual is their 'open braid' or 'cylinder' trunk. This is formed by planting about six small plants and weaving them as they grow.

A particular client, who owns a number of office buildings, particularly likes these, so in this new site in Southampton's Ocean Village they are having nothing but these, just in different sizes. As you can see, they are available in as small a size as 1.5m. Though be warned:they cost more than four times as much as an ordinary Ficus Benj of the same height. Plant costs are largely determined by the speed of growth, and these clearly take a while.

They are also going in some rather unusual pots called, rather inauspiciously, 'Blobs'. I won't spoil the surprise yet, perhaps I'll post some pictures of the finished installation, and let my readers judge if the name is appropriate.

Naturally, if this shape of plant really grabs you, and you're ready for the price premium, get in touch. You'll struggle to find one for sale in a shop; we can get you one direct from Holland in at worst three weeks.


Monday, August 01, 2016

Look at our lovely summer hanging baskets

Now, I'm not sure I should be taking much credit for this, as I don't personally make up our hanging baskets, and like most of our basket clients, we just supply these; we don't look after them. But even so, I was so impressed with how good these looked that I had to take a picture.

I don't reveal the names of our clients, suffice to say it was a pub adjacent to a large ruined castle
between Swanage and Wareham...

In fact the baskets were so good this year that one was the victim of its own success, and had got so heavy that it had pulled its rather dilapidated bracket off the wall.

So my visit was to replace the bracket with this rather gorgeous hand-made bracket, once I'd drilled some holes into the extremely tough Purbeck Stone walls.

It is, of course, far too late to buy any summer baskets, in fact we will be taking orders for Autumn/Winter baskets (made by the same lady as made these) in a few weeks. If you are interested, get in touch.


Feature Plant: Philodendron Brasil

This month's feature plant is a rather lovely trailing plant called Philodendron Brasil, which is noted for its very striking and well defined two-tone green leaves.

Often mistaken for Scindapsis (Devil's Ivy), it is in fact a variegated version of the plain green Philodendron Scandens. None of which may mean anything to the casual reader. P. Brasil is odd for two reasons:

1. It is arguably a stronger plant than the plain green version. As plant lovers will know, variegated plants tend to need more light and be generally a bit less forgiving than the plain green 'vanilla' variety. Another that follows this pattern is Sansevieria (Mother-in-Law's Tongue), where the yellow variegated version (S. Laurentii) is generally agreed to be tougher than the plain green version (S. Zeylanica). I blogged recently about this plant..

2. Annoyingly, it's only available in the two sizes shown, i.e. a trailing plant or a 1.2m mosspole plants. The default specimen plant size is 1.5m; if I had a pound for every time one of my maintenance staff had tried to order a 1.5m P. Brasil, and I'd had to break it to them that they don't exist... I'd have at least enough for a round of drinks. I gave up understanding the vagaries of Dutch plant supply years ago, I just take what I can get.

Anyway, so assuming an internet search brought you here as ever, here's a little care advice. P. Brasil can tolerate middling to low light, does not enjoy getting cold, and can be pruned simply by cutting runners back to the soil or mosspole. One more tip: if replanting any mosspole plant out of its growing pot into a new container, be very careful. One of the common ways to damage such plants is to be a bit rough with the interface between the mosspole and the rootball, causing sudden death. For similar reasons, avoid carrying them by the pole; lift them by the pot.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Feature Plant: Cordyline Chocolate Queen

I shouldn't really include a Cordyline as a feature plant for a couple of reasons:

1. I only did Cordylines as a feature plant last year
2. I don't actually possess any of these...yet!

I saw some in a box waiting to be put out for sale in Stewarts Garden Centre next door and had to get a picture.

The next trick is to contact my Dutch plant supplier on Monday when I place my order, and see if he can come up with any, because I think they are lovely. Can't really see it in my crappy phone photo but there's a really 'chocolate & cream' look to the new foliage.

The only catch - for us - is that it's in that intermediate size of plants that we struggle to find a home for, but I will try.

Worth pointing out here that, as this story makes plain, the garden centres and Interior Landscaping within Stewarts get their indoor plants from different suppliers (for good reason, but complicated to explain). So if you can't find what you are looking for in the shop, get in touch.


Unusual wildlife in our planters

Sadly deceased, but look at the size of this Stag Beetle I found on the edge of one of our outside planters at a site in Fareham (this site) the other week.

The pot rim is 7.5cm wide, so the beetle must be 6.5cm long!

Makes a change from spiders, which one of my wildly arachnophobic colleagues would be relieved about.


Thursday, July 07, 2016

Bonus feature plant: Ananas Champaca

Bonus 'feature plants' post, bonus because it's only a week since the last one.

But this plant came in on today's Dutch delivery and it's really cute.

OK, so it can't compete with the rainbow coloured tree in the last post, but the difference is this will grow in your office.

So what we have here is Ananas Champaca. Those of you with any rudimentary French, or eyes for that matter, will realise that this is a Pineapple plant, as the fruit is visible at the top of the central spike.

The reason this one is worthy of note is that Ananas, as supplied from Holland, are notoriously variable in size and style. Some are much bigger, most have no Pineapple sprouting out of the top, and most are quite incredibly spiky like this one.

I guess the skill comes in asking our Dutch supplier for the right type, a skill I don't possess, sadly.

So anyway, Ananas Champaca ticks all the boxes, being small, not spiky, and fruity. The colleague of mine that ordered them is going to put them in a large planted bed in a Leisure Centre in Bournemouth, where ironically it could have been any old shape and spikiness and not really mattered.

A bit of care advice as ever. Ananas like it hot, sunny and dry. So south facing windowsills and other hot dry locations.

Back in the old days, when I cut my teeth in this job in London, we used to use Ananas in places where the plants were prone to being damaged by members of the public; sadly a duty of care to our client's visitors precludes this nowadays, damned health & safety! But I still preserve happy memories of a certain client of mine where plants kept getting stolen from a certain area, so I put a particularly vicious Ananas in, and sure enough two weeks later one member of staff had a very obvious bandage on their hand....


Rainbow Eucalyptus - Is this tree real?

There's no reason related to Stewarts Interior Landscaping to publish this blog post, but I just had to. I guess it is a horticultural subject.

One of my staff was telling me about images of "Rainbow Eucalyptus" that she'd seen online somewhere. I googled it, assumed it was fake, checked Wikipedia, and apparently it's a real thing, Latin name "Eucalyptus Deglupta".

The bark goes through several colour stages as it matures and peels off, giving it this brilliant display of different colours.

The wood beneath, sadly, is plain coloured and rather prosaically (or perhaps ironically) is used in the manufacture of wood pulp for plain white paper.

But still... amazing!

I so want someone to cultivate small ones of these for use indoors so I can supply them to my clients!


Friday, July 01, 2016

Feature plant: Dracaena White Stripe

Michelle wasn't overly impressed about featuring in the previous blog post, so not only am I swiftly adding another post so she's not at the top of the page, but I've also let her choose this month's feature plant: the Dracaena White Stripe.

This is an oddity in a way, in that it's a very common plant, but one we use quite rarely.

There's a whole group of fairly similar looking white variegated Dracaenas like this (as previously blogged). At Stewarts, purely historically, we tend to favour Dracaena Ulysses, which is just a trace less high-contrast than D. White Stripe. This was a tendency I inherited when I started in 2002 and it's a hard habit to break. My previous firm in London used White Stripes, and I am trying to throw a few in the mix here.

As usual, here's a bit of info on the plant. Like all Dracaenas, they like to be kept warm. Being variegated, D. White Stripe does not like super-low light but it's pretty tolerant. As one of the Deremensis side of the family (the ones with soft stems the same colour as the foliage), they don't enjoy being handled or touched too much, so aren't a great choice for high-traffic areas.

Finally: why does Michelle like them so much? In her words: "they look classy, bold and they are smart". She also agrees with me that they look very effective in black or dark grey pots.  


Tool cupboard tidying frenzy

As I've explained before, we occasionally have a random quiet week, due to no one taking holiday, or just a gap between new installations.

This week is one of those, and by Thursday we were scratching round for jobs a bit. In two weeks we will be really busy again, but there's nothing we can bring forward.

I passingly mentioned that our locker full of tools and spare bits of hardware hadn't been properly cleared out since before I started... in 2002!

Bizarrely, my assistant Michelle more or less jumped at the chance to do this, before rather sheepishly announcing that she loves making things organised and tidy. I came back from doing something else to find that she'd spread all the odds and ends out in very neat rows on the table, and was busily sorting them in to containers.

She's slightly embarrassed about how happy she looks at doing this. Hey, everyone's got to have something they enjoy!

It was true, by the way:there were things in that locker I've never seen before. What can you spot in the photo?

4 door wedges
A hand drill (when's the last time anyone ever used one of those?)
6 plant food scoops
Half an outside tap


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Our plants in a stylish new restaurant

Without naming names, we have supplied the plants to a lovely new restaurant in a prime spot right in the middle of Bournemouth.

I like our plants every time I supply them, but just occasionally they really make a difference to where they are delivered.

To such a degree that I am just going to post the pictures and stop waffling...

...except to say the pot colour here is matt dark bronze - very popular at present - and the graduated height group of three pots is a great way of filling a redundant space under a staircase, and also stopping people banging their heads.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How having indoor plants keeps us healthy

Wow, where did the whole of spring go since my last post?

Well, we've had a member of staff off sick and new recruit to train, and as is often the case around the start of the new financial year, lots and lots of new work to do.

We've taken over all the local branches of a national chain of restaurants in Dorset and Hampshire, plus a very nice new restaurant in central Bournemouth, not to mention several new offices.

So sadly, blogging has taken a back seat.

Anyway, so a press cutting about some RHS research has been sat in my tray since back then and I now have time to post a link to it, and reprint the text below:

The prescription for a healthy life? A house plant! Indoor greenery boosts mood, reduces stress and cleans the air around us 

·         Indoor plants improve our mental and physical health, experts claim
·         Workers are more productive when their office is filled with greenery
·         And hospital patients tolerate pain better if there is a plant on the ward

You may not need to pull on your wellies to get the best out of nature - the house plant on your windowsill might already be giving you a boost.
Indoor plants improve our mental and physical health, experts claim.
City dwellers today spend an average 90 per cent of their time indoors - but experts from the Royal Horticultural Society say that ‘bringing the outdoors inside’ can offer some of the benefits that are lost by retreating indoors.
Plants reduce stress levels, improve mood and filter polluted air, they say.
A review of the scientific evidence suggests that workers are more productive when their office is filled with greenery, and hospital patients even tolerate pain better if there is a plant on the ward.
Perhaps most importantly, plants also trap and filter pollutants that are linked to thousands of deaths a year.+2
RHS principal horticultural advisor, Leigh Hunt, one of the authors of the paper, said that even common houseplants will do the trick.
As long as they can withstand shade and fluctuating temperatures - and are attractive to the eye - most plants will give people a benefit.
Mr Hunt said: ‘A spider plant is a good choice, or even common English ivy - anything that will survive indoors is a good choice.
‘We know that plants are calming, but there is also a lot of evidence that they are beneficial to human health.’
The best-known advantage of indoor plants is psychological, the RHS scientists said.
The presence of plants reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.
Writing in the The Plantsman horticultural journal, the scientists said: ‘Indoor plants can also elicit a number of physical health benefits, including the removal of airborne pollutants, both particulate and gaseous, which lead to better indoor air quality and associated improvements in physical health.’
A major study published by the Royal College of Physicians this week estimated that indoor air pollution contributes to 99,000 deaths in Europe every year.
Everyday kitchen products, faulty boilers, fly spray, air fresheners, deodorants and cleaning products contribute to poor indoor air quality in almost every home.
This causes eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, skin conditions and breathing problems.
A study by Nasa scientists found that plants absorb and break down the most harmful of these chemicals through their leaves, to create a healthy indoor eco-system.
Just three plants in a room can vastly improve the air in the room, the Nasa team found.
The RHS scientists said that plants can also improve mental facilities - including reaction time and concentration.
They pointed to a Washington State University study which found that the presence of plants in the room increased speed of reaction in a computer task by 12 per cent.
Greenery was also found to reduce students’ blood pressure and increase attention span.
And a Kansas State University in 2008 found that hospital patients treated with plants in the room required lower levels of painkillers.
The RHS team concluded: ‘Research to date shows that indoor plants clearly have a number of benefits for the occupants – they include psychological as well physical, with low rates of any adverse reactions.

‘As placing indoor plants in rooms is one of the simplest changes that can be made to enhance the environment, it stands out as a practical and affordable support for human health.’ 

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Feature Plant: Sansevieria Laurentii

This month's feature plant - Sansevieria Laurentii - is one of our most popular species for modern, architectural looking installations.

It's also really easy to look after, if you can restrain yourself from watering it. If you do over-water it you'll regret it, as the leaves turn to mush, like a cucumber that's gone off, only very, very smelly.

S. Laurentii is part of a large family of different Sansevierias, that come in a wide variety of colours and shapes, but this one is what you could call the default, 'vanilla' Sansevieria. The family name is the decidedly un-PC "Mother-in-Law's Tongue".

They are a bit of a Marmite family of plants - you either love them or hate them. When I'm selling them to clients, I'd say the boys like them more than the girls.

So why is such an ordinary plant being honoured this month? Because I'm missing it!

They are imported via the same route into Europe as another plant, the latter which is currently banned from import due to some kind of disease. So even though there is nothing wrong with them, I haven't been able to get the larger sized ones for months. I can still get the plain green S. Zeylanica (at a higher-than-usual price) but as yet not S. Laurentii. I keep being told "another month" but that month never arrives.

So absence is making my heart stronger!


The five best houseplants that help you sleep better

This little story is doing the rounds of click-bait & social media at the moment, so I thought I'd post it on our blog.

Offered entirely without comment as I have no idea about the science behind it.

As I commented when I read the story on Stewarts' Facebook page, I find looking after 150 of them in a day makes me sleep like a log.

So if you want to sleep well, come and work for us!


Monday, February 22, 2016

A nice display of matching planters

Just saving and cataloguing all the images from a large installation we carried out on Friday in Poole.

As I've mentioned before, I name all my photos by what they are show. So this one will be named '3 x pearl red KU2 Ficus Burgundy', which means if I search our database for a pearl red pot, a KU2 or a Ficus Burgundy, I'll find this image.

We have (I am guessing) several thousand images saved; there are almost infinite combinations of pot, colour and plant, and it helps to have something to show a potential client what I am proposing.

As with these blog posts I hyperlink my quotes too, so if you click on a plant or pot name it takes you to an image of the same.

Anyway, I digress. Sometimes I surprise myself by how artistic our plant displays look, and how I manage to take a non-blurry picture of them.

I'd be more proud if this one wasn't entirely accidental: these are the wrong plants. The right ones (Dracaena Magentas) didn't show up on the order, so these Ficus Burgundies are just stand-ins for a couple of weeks.

Which I'm starting to think is a shame.


Monday, February 08, 2016

A warning on this cold, windy day

Just a quick post as Storm Isobel batters the UK (and blows my fruit tree frame over at home God-dammit!).

I know I've said so before, but if you are transporting indoor plants (either from where you have bought them, or if you are moving house or office) take great care when a cold wind is blowing like it is today.

Here at Stewarts, we wrap our plants in fleece or plastic bags when transporting our plants in the winter, and we pre-warm our vans when it's very cold.

Wind chill will kill a sensitive house plant in a matter of seconds; a plant can cope with a period of static cold fairly well, but a cold wind will do for them very quickly indeed.

As I found out as an inexperienced maintenance technician at Heathrow Airport many years ago, when I killed a Dracaena Ulysses just carrying it across a road on a cold, windy day.


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Free advertising

The advantage of being part of a garden centre company is that we have a captive audience and plenty of space to put up signs advertising our wares.

But I am particularly pleased with this large sign showing off Stewarts Interior Landscaping's services that is now displayed on the wall of the Broomhill garden centre as you drive in to the car park, along with a similar advert for Exterior Landscaping, and the coffee shop.

A similar set will be going up somewhere at Christchurch.

The signs have been sitting in my greenhouse, getting in the way some would argue, for a week or so, and my manager began agitating for them to get put up. However, all the usual go-to guys for this kind of task were unavailable, so as a desperate last resort she turned to me. So, along with my trusty assistant Michelle, we put them up this lunchtime.

I was of the opinion that the person putting the signs up got to put their own department's sign in the middle!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Feature plant: Aucuba Japonica

Here's an odd choice for feature plant.

Aucuba Japonica is (as keen gardeners will know) a common plant in the garden. So why am I talking about it on the Stewarts Interior Landscaping blog?

The answer is that it is one of the rare plants that will survive in a cool building and outside in the UK, and crucially is shade-tolerant.

This means, like a handful of other species, it is our go-to choice in a particular environment: dark, unheated indoor spaces. As I've blogged before, there is a right plant for every spot, just more choice in some places than others.

So for example in a porch, this is the default choice for us. I am reminded of it by the fact that this morning I am taking some out to plant in a bed between two flights of stairs at a shopping centre in Bournemouth. Technically it's outside but it's in deep shade and very sheltered. Aucuba, partnered with Ivy (a common choice) forms the planting scheme.



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Does the weather affect indoor plants?

OK, so something reminded me of this the other day. As per the post title:

Does the weather outside affect your indoor plants, and if so: how?

The knee-jerk answer is, "of course not, don't be stupid". Assuming your office or house is adequately heated and lit, what's happening outside should make no difference to the plants, right?

But experience tells me there are at least two ways that it can make a difference.

1. Prolonged dull weather in the winter

As you probably noticed, it rained most of the time this Autumn and over Christmas, and the sun very rarely shone. Low light plants would have been fine with this, but some of the more temperamental high light plants, most notably Ficuses, would not have enjoyed this. Even if the lights are on, plants like this are only used where there is natural light as well, e.g. by a window. Ficuses tend to drop leaves in the winter anyway (that's why I advocate feeding them a little all year) as their leaf count is a function of the light received, but if the winter is gloomier than normal, it can finish them off.

2. Prolonged wet weather in the summer

As I've previously blogged, indoor plants can suffer from a pest called Sciarid Fly. It's commonly thought that it comes in fresh compost, but this has been shown not to be the case; it is attracted to compost from the outside world. I have noticed a distinct correlation between warm, wet weather and incidences of Sciarid Fly in our plant pots. Clearly there are more of the flies around in the environment in these kind of conditions, waiting for Stewarts to provide them with lunch!

Finally an obvious one - though I've seen people do this: if you buy interior plants in cold weather (like today) be very careful with them when transporting them. Even a few minutes of a cold wind can kill a sensitive indoor plants like a Dracaena. Putting the plant in a big bag or fleece until it's in the warm.


Friday, January 08, 2016

Spot the mistake...

Happy New Year everybody!

In the lull between collecting all our Christmas trees, and getting back to the real business of looking after interior plants, I was clearing my phone out of pictures, and found this one I'd taken recently of a menu in one of our clients' canteens in Bournemouth.

Can you spot the error?