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, 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!


Friday, November 16, 2018

Christmas in the new greenhouse

Slightly misleading post title, as all the signs are that we will not be over in our shiny new greenhouse this side of Christmas (still waiting for the electric supply to be sorted, amongst other things).

However, we are using all that lovely storage space to get all our client's artificial Christmas trees ready.

The obvious question you are going to ask is "can I order one" and the answer is a hard no; we started turning people away in early October. Our repeat customers almost fill up our order book straight away.

Our deliveries commence in about a week with four days of drop-offs to a local chain of car dealers with premises throughout Bournemouth, Poole and Salisbury. The last of the 70 trees we have sold is delivered Monday 10 December... then they all get collected in three manic days between New Year and Twelfth Night.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fame again!

Once again a Stewarts maintenance technician has managed to photobomb the Google Streetview image of one of our clients. Again in Poole, funnily enough.

Again I was using this image for the location notes for the client; the van is parked where we are meant to, so this forms a helpful guide for the staff!


Monday, September 24, 2018

A glimpse inside our new greenhouse

I took this photo as a celebration of the fact I'd just moved all these plant pots from the next bay along on my own. It took about two hours!

They don't look like a very big pile in this picture; there's probably a couple of hundred. Each of those very carefully stacked piles in the middle is four wide, two or three high and about ten long.

The space you are looking at will be our plants storage area. I moved the pots as the racking in the bay next door is arriving in two days.

I've just found out the plant benches (which go where these pots are now...) are arriving in about a week. So I'll have to move them again!


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Feature plant: dead Dracaena Riki!

No sooner had I posted the previous feature plant article on the Dracaena Riki than one of my staff (Jo, who I blogged about the other day) sent me a photo of one of our plant displays in one of her clients between Bournemouth and Poole.

Thankfully the state of this plant is not an accurate testament of her maintenance skills, but one in a room that we have not been able to gain access to for approaching a year.

I said in my previous post that Dracaena Rikis need very little water, but even these have their limits!

Though if you look at the bottom left, even after all this time and the very hot summer we have had, there is a little bit of green leaf showing on the bottom left.


Feature plant: Dracaena Riki

The Dracaena family is not only a rich vein of plants for Stewarts to use in our maintenance contracts, but also a rich vein of feature plants for articles like this.

As I've said before, there are a lot of different types.

Dracaena Riki is a little different from the others; most Dracs have very soft foliage, whereas the Riki's leaves are strongly ridged and rather stiff.

This photo doesn't really do them justice, they have a rather lovely light/dark green variegation - close up below. They are very good performing plants... IF you can restrain your watering can! They seem to drink noticeably less than almost any other Dracaena, and if you do get them too wet the leaves will start tipping, and never stop.

So they aren't popular with all my maintenance staff, though those with a very light watering touch seem to love them.

Incidentally, this plant is in Stewarts' head office building in Christchurch. The pots are Pantone 703 coloured; that's the rose pink in the Stewarts flower logo.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

One very excited Stewarts technician

Jo is our newest maintenance technician, and as yet our attempts to crush her spirit by employing her at Stewarts have failed. Give me time...

Over the weekend she sent me this fantastic photo of her visiting the Eden Project in Cornwall. She reported back that it was most enjoyable seeing all the plants we use in such a natural-looking environment.

I think my favourite image was this bank of enormous Calathea Triostar (below). We do use these but they really like a bit more humidity than we can provide, so they aren't the easiest plant to care for in an office.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fame at last

I am currently going through all our client files and adding a Streetview image of the buildings for the internal documents that our maintenance staff use to find sites.

While doing this site in Poole, I spotted one of our own vans double-parked outside.

Even funnier, it wasn't the regular driver but a holiday cover visit, and the driver was stood by me while I was looking and recalled the occasion she had been there.

Fame at last!


Friday, July 13, 2018

Watch this space!

Last September I posted an image of the steel frame of our new greenhouse being erected, commenting that we'd be moving in early next year (so about four to six months ago).

Sadly a combination of factors has delayed this a lot - like any building project - but I thought it was time to post some update pictures and describe the new building in a little more detail.

As you can see the outer shell is complete, and has been for some time. What has happened more recently is the fitting out of electrics and plumbing. One of the big jobs (and one source of delay) is the super-modern underfloor heating system. No more being deafened by our super-noisy oil boiler in the winter! Under the concrete floor is a maze of heating pipes, which we are told will also be very efficient.

Our department's area will comprise the right hand bay above for the day-to-day running of the department (i.e. where all the plants will be kept) and the middle bay will largely be used for storage of old containers and Christmas trees etc., so won't need to be heated the whole time.

The internal pic on the left shows what the inside of our main area looks like now; we have a side door that a small van can drive in through, so in theory my maintenance staff will be able to 'drive through' and load up in the morning. More importantly they will be able to pre-heat their vans in the winter, much more environmentally friendly than running the engine for 5-10 minutes like we do now.

My office will be behind the small window at the nearest corner of the top photo. Glancing up at my thermometer now (30 deg C), I am only too aware that I have been promised air conditioning in my office. Though at this rate I won't need it until summer 2019.


Don't get sunburnt!

As anyone reading this blog in the UK will have noticed, it's been a bit hot and sunny recently. In fact I don't think we've had sustained rain since the washout that was Easter. Anyway...

I occasionally get asked by people if they should move their plants outside in the summer and - with very rare exceptions - I say no. The problem is that (like humans) they get sunburnt if not allowed to acclimatise. Even the change from being in a conservatory to being in direct sun can be a shock. So generally it's safest just to not bother.

Also, unless you are bringing it in every night, even in summer night time temperatures can be too low for some more sensitive indoor plants, like most Dracaenas.

Now onto the related problem of sunburn indoors. In this picture of a Dracaena Janet Craig, shamelessly stolen from the internet, you can see that the plant is in an awful state. As it's in a conservatory, sunburn is the most likely problem (A Janet Craig is a low light plant). However, if it had been gradually introduced to a higher light spot it may have been ok. This looks like a relatively new plant, so I'm suspecting it's been bought from a garden centre and plonked right in a sunny window in the summer.

So the key here is first to choose an appropriate plant for the place you want it, and second to try and avoid sudden changes in the light that the plant receives.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

100 year old Aspidistra

I had last week off as annual leave. In further proof that I have interior plants in my blood, on visiting the museum in the small town in which I live, the only photo I took was the one above.

The label renders further explanation unnecessary but I'll do it anyway in case you can't read it: this is a divided part of an Aspidistra that was given to a local resident over one hundred years ago. I know Aspidistras are affectionately known as 'Cast Iron Plants' but that's just ridiculous!

For comparison, our maintenance prices assume plants will last three years on average.

As a side note, Aspidistras have gone from being deeply unfashionable (they are the archetypal Victorian plant, one of the few that will withstand proximity to smoky coal fires I'm told) to being very fashionable in the last few years. Though the rise in popularity of big bushy, broad-leaved plants (see my last post) seems to have displaced them somewhat.

Care advice? They will cope with almost any light level and like to be kept fairly dry. They are one of the few plants susceptible to Snow Scale; you'll see the stems turning white from the soil up, but it's easily controllable.

Finally, I thoroughly recommend Sturminster Newton Museum if you are in the town. It's only small (but then so is Stur!) but it's a mine of local information, particularly about the town's railway past and about the ruined 'castle', that most people don't even know lurks in the trees above the Stur Bridge traffic lights. And even better: admission is free!


Friday, June 29, 2018

Feature plant: Monstera Deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant)

This feature plant post is as much about the vagaries of fashion and plant names than the actual plant.

When I started in interior landscaping twenty years ago, Monstera Deliciosa (commonly the Swiss Cheese Plant) was already deeply unfashionable, being one of those indelibly 1970s plants, all wild and shaggy with a tendency to get enormous.

Some old-timers also referred to it by the latin name Philodendron Pertusem, much to us young pups' bafflement.

I had a big line of them to look after in Heathrow Airport (where I began my career) and I hated them, as they did not do well there. 

For the intervening two decades the fashion has very much been for 'architectural' plants, though I've never quite worked out what that means. Spiky seems like a good synonym. Offices are getting more and more tightly packed, so plants that stay narrow (e.g. Dracaenas) are very popular.

Then all of  sudden a couple of years ago, the more hipster/interior designer clients I interacted with started to want lots of little plants rather a few large ones, but also wanted big, tropical broad-leaved plants... like the Monstera.

Laypersons will also notice that all of a sudden everything patterned has Monstera leaves on it: wallpaper, tea-towels, plates, you name it.

There is an obvious side effect to this: the price of Monsteras has absolutely skyrocketed. Up until a couple of years ago you would have been able to order a big, bushy 1.5m specimen grown up a mosspole from me for about £50.00 + VAT.

Now it would cost you about twice as much and - as the wholesalers are so desperate for stock - they are being delivered with growth only about 1.0-1.1m up the mosspole, like the rather puny effort shown on the left.

The smart money, if you really want to be a fashion victim, is to get a 'bush' plant like the one above right. Not as big, but at least they look better from the off.

Care advice, as far as I can remember? They are a low-medium light, medium water plant. They like
a warm, ideally humid location, where they aren't brushed against too much; that's what used to do for my row at Heathrow.

If you really want to spend some money there is a rare variegated type (Monstera Variegatum), with
gorgeous high-contrast white/green foliage. But prepare to spend a fortune; I have only ever ordered one 1.5m one about 15 years ago, and at today's prices it would be over £200.00. Incidentally: I know these are very hard to find, but I'm confident I can obtain one if you have stumbled on this post while searching in vain, so contact me at the address below if so.

Finally a postscript. As this post shows, everything comes round eventually. The price list I get sent by my Dutch supplier every week now refers to them as 'Philodendron Pertusem (Monstera)', so even the old name has come back in to fashion!


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Know about office plants? I wrote the book on them...

I try my best not to blow my own trumpet, but interior landscaping (office plants to you) is a small industry and I've been in it for a long time, so as per my whingy post from a few weeks ago, I know my stuff.

Last time I had a meeting with all my maintenance staff, one of the newer people suggested that it would be useful to have a definitive guide to all the plants that we use commercially, what conditions they like and what sizes are available.

I agreed that this would be very helpful, but that it would be a mammoth undertaking, as likely to happen as Stewarts buying me an air-conditioned van (sore point after a long traffic jam in Bristol yesterday). As things stand my staff are each given a copy of a small Dutch book which is very good for the Latin names, but not much else.

Shortly after that, I had a hospital appointment in Wincanton, so squarely in the middle of the day that (living nearer there than Stewarts Broomhill) it made no sense to come back to work, so I went home and for lack of anything else to do I sat down and wrote said book. In fact I ended up working on it for some hours after my allotted hours had finished.

On my return to work, I added images of each plant, ran it past a couple of key people, then pressed print on all FIFTY pages of it.

So far the reception has been very positive, and trust me: my staff would not hold back if they didn't like it.

So there you go: after twenty years in interior landscaping I actually have written the book on it. I have no intention of publishing it by the way, it's purely for internal use. Not sure how much market there is for it to be honest!


Friday, June 22, 2018

Heaven is...

... a well-stocked greenhouse.

We've just had a delivery so the main small plant bench is looking particularly lush. Just thought I'd drop a picture in.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Feature pest: Snow Scale

Now and then I focus on a pest that appears on office plants.

I've done the most common ones (Red Spider Mite, Mealy Bug), so now I am choosing one that is close to my heart due to the fact I played a small part in its identification in the UK.

Snow Scale looks to the untrained eye like Mealy Bug. In fact Mealy Bug is a kind of Scale too, and I'll discuss the common Scale in the future I hope.

So for a long time people just assumed a new kind of Mealy Bug was attacking very specific office plants. I became suspicious that it wasn't the same thing, and having a good friend who is a horticultural entomologist of some note (plant bug expert in plain English) I sent him a sample. He consulted colleagues, identified it as Snow Scale, and told me I was one of the first people to identify it in the UK, and the first in our industry.

So what's it like? It attacks a narrow range of plants: Aspidistras, some Dracaenas and has a go at Sansevierias.
The bad news is it does catastrophic damage to the plants if left untreated; it stays down at the soil level or in the joints of the leaves and can be quite stubborn to clean out. On some Dracaenas in particular it can be deadly.
The good news is that it doesn't seem to travel to adjacent plants (i.e. it comes in on new plants) and does respond to repeat treatment with pesticides like Provado, where use of same is permitted. I have successfully eradicated it on plants of my own, for sure.


Funny office sign... descriptive though

Another in my long running series of random funny signs from our clients' offices. Rather reminiscent of this one from five years ago. In case the photo isn't clear, this is a plant that someone has seen fit to label 'SHRUBBERY'.

There are three possible explanations:

1. Someone in the office is a bit OCD and likes labelling everything.

2. The firm is a bit OCD and everything they own has to have a label on it.

3. It was misidentified as something else with regrettable consequences, and someone decided a descriptive label was prudent.

No. 2 is probably most likely. Though of course I'm not sure a Philodendron Scandens creeper growing up a mosspole support counts as 'shrubbery', but to the layman it probably sounds as right as our maintenance staff frequently being referred to as "the flower man/woman". We take it in our stride.

 It's lucky - assuming I'm right - that I'm not in charge of such a labelling programme. My anarchic streak would have me misidentifying obvious things to see if anyone noticed... or cared.


Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Giant round pots

As you can tell, I am going through a reasonably quiet patch, so have time to post a few snippets.

This pot was one of a matching pair we recently installed outside a very swanky (enough to have a uniformed concierge) hair salon in the posh end of Poole.

The client asked for big black pots, and whatever I suggested they came back with "bigger!"

So I ended up supplying them these two Luna Slice planters which are an amazing 1.2m (or 4 feet) in diameter. I had my misgivings but they have had a very positive reception, and there have been one or two tentative enquiries from passers-by.

They look really good planted with Chamaerops Humilis palms (an old favourite of mine) and Ivy Leaf Geranium (which will hopefully be thriving by now).

Be warned though: they took 20 bags of compost and LECA (the drainage material we use) EACH to fill. To put it another way, our large delivery van was fully loaded and rather down on its haunches when we had loaded up everything we needed just to install these two pots. Though smaller versions are available, and as usual can be had in any colour you like!


Feature plant: Spathiphyllum Sensation

A quick 'feature plant' post to move my preceding rant down the post order a bit...

One of my maintenance staff - still fairly new - has a habit of ordering not quite the plants she intended. Usually I pull her up on it, but I think I did the last plant order in my sleep, so she managed to order three Spathiphyllum Sensations, when what she wanted was the usual small Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily), which you may be more familiar with.

The normal Spath comes in a 12-17cm diameter pot and is at most a foot high.

The S. Sensation is an entirely different proposition, being about 1.2m high. As you can see in this photo with a 10 litre watering can for scale. 

The question remains: what am I going to do with these? They require quite a lot of room as they to get fatter with age. I'm happy to sell them to people in our area for £40.00! 

Finally, care notes as usual. Spaths are one of the thirstiest indoor plants. The foliage will begin to sag obviously the moment they dry out, but don't panic as it quickly bounces back when watered. In fact they seem to do best in the long term if allowed to get to the point of sagging before being watered again, but for that you'll need to monitor them regularly.  

Monday, June 04, 2018

Please let us do our job

Very occasionally via the medium of this blog I have a little whinge about my job, though the incident that finally catalysed this post is now a few week's old. Grumbling is a dish best served cold...

Pictured here is a plant display I recently installed for a private client near Chichester. It's the perfect plant for its environment, in a pot that perfectly complements its surroundings.

That's because I chose it, and though it's hard to avoid a little bigheadedness, I've been doing this for years and I'm really good at it.


As the years have gone by in which I've been selling plant displays for Stewarts, and with a pronounced up-swing in the last couple of years, the trend is for people to pretty much tell me what they want.

The customer, I hasten to add, is always right... but when you are telling a houseplant expert what plants you want and he says they will not live in your office, or you have a particular plant pot in mind and he tells you they are simply not suitable (for example they have whopping great holes in the bottom so you'll be watering your carpet), the best thing would be to pay heed. Or you may as well cut me out of the loop entirely, and just go buy your own plants and pots!

If I am going to point fingers, the younger, more internet-savvy clients, especially those in the design industry seem to be the worst culprits here. My guess at the reason is the exponential growth in the availability of pictures through Google Images/Instagram/Pinterest etc.. Type "lovely indoor plants" and up pop thousands of wildly inappropriate plants for your office.

But again, just because you've found a picture of a plant in a blogger's house in America you like the look of doesn't mean that it will live here, or even that it's commercially available in the UK.

I'm entirely happy to be asked for anything, but what I would dearly love is for people to take 'no' for an answer, whereas the trend now seems to be to assume that (for goodness knows what reason!) I am part of a sinister conspiracy to deprive people of all the nice plants. Whereas the real reason is that after all these years I know that if you put the wrong plant in the wrong place, it won't look great for a while then drop dead, it will start to deteriorate from day one and never do its job: to make your workplace look nice! Whereas a safer choice will develop and prosper before your eyes.

Whinge over.

Oh, except to say that the lady who bought the pot in the image above has used Stewarts in her four spectacular houses over the last 13 years and is a very exacting customer, but here's the thing: if I tell her something won't work she takes my word for it!


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Wooden herb planters

I've blogged about these Fat Leaf planters before (twice in fact). I really like them, but because they aren't very 'officy' I don't get to use them a lot.

They are made from Larch, which is naturally tough so doesn't need treating.

This installation was for a balcony in an office in Southampton, specifically a balcony off the canteen. So the client wanted planters full of mixed herbs that the chef could use in the kitchen. Job done!

I showed these to my partner with some trepidation as I feared that she would like them so much that she would want one on our terrace at home. So far I have got away with it!


Monday, April 16, 2018

Feature pest: Red Spider Mite

As you may be able to tell by the fact it's only a few days since my last post I'm going through a welcome quiet period, so I thought I'd add another feature pest post, and an appropriate one as the weather is (at last) about to turn nice, because this critter loves the sun!

On the right we have an image of a Red Spider Mite. Along with Mealy Bug (that I've already featured), the most common pest on office plants, and like Mealy bug very hard to control, let alone eradicate.

Thankfully this photo is not actual size! The mites are - just - visible to the naked eye. To the untrained eye they look like dust or powder.

Much more noticeable is the damage that they cause as they feed on the leaves.

This distinct pale spotting is classic Red Spider Mite damage. Later I'll blog about Thrips, whose damage looks similar, but they are much rarer, so assume it's Red Spider.In extreme cases you'll get fine spider webs in between the leaves but this is quite unusual.

As I mentioned in my preamble, they love sunny positions and need low humidity, so your best weapon is to keep the plant as damp as you can, and wet-wipe the leaves (in particular the undersides where they mostly live), being careful to thoroughly clean said wipe before going near another plant with it, or even better throwing it away. If you can get your hands on an oily leaf shine product this seems to keep it in check too.

There are predators available too - I've used them successfully on large trees.

Finally, as the leaf damage pattern is permanent, how can you tell if you are keeping the infestation under control? The mites have a distinct gritty feel to them as you rub a finger over the leaf underside, and they will turn a cloth slightly green if you rub it over them.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Feature plant: Dracaena Sunray

I'm going to give up apologising for the large gaps between posts, it's getting repetitive. As before, we are busy busy busy!

This (ahem)  month's feature plant is called Dracaena Sunray. Keen house plant enthusiasts will instantly recognise that it is a variegated D. Marginata, but instead of being a pale pink/green colour, it's got this striking dark green (almost black) edge with a yellow green centre, and still (as the close up below shows) the dark red margin that gives the common D. Marginata its name.

I'd seen a few small two-stem ones in Stewarts Garden Centre, but my trusty Dutch wholesaler managed to come up with these 1.1-1.2m three-stem ones which are a bit more useful in our maintenance clients.

Care tips: well, I assume it'll be like a normal 'Margi' in that it will need warmth and little water, but being a bright variegation I suspect it will need good light.

Incidentally, my plan is to use one where a previous unusual plant (Codieum Tamara) that I blogged about went at one of my clients in Gillingham. Sadly, for all that said plant made me say "wow", it was a rather difficult plant to care for, and is now looking rather sorry for itself. But there's the great advantage of having our maintenance service on your plants, when it dies we replace it, and pick up the bill.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What the cold does to indoor plants

 First, apologies for another long gap between posts; we really are exceptionally busy and the blog takes a back seat. Apart from training a new member of maintenance staff (which takes a month), we are dealing with a lot of new business enquiries and doing a lot of installations.

Which would be easier if it wasn't so damn cold!

Which leads me - as if by magic - to the subject of this post. We recently hired out a small lorry-load of plants to a Poole client for an event in London. Unusually for us, we did not do the delivery but let them collect them.

Despite our warnings, the plants were stored in an unheated lorry, and the above is what happened to them. The plants in the foreground are (I think!) Dracaena White Stripes. They should look like the image on the right. Oops!

So what can you do to prevent this if having to move indoor plants in cold weather?

Well, the first thing to understand is that cold air is the fastest killer, rather than the temperature itself to a large extent, so wrap the plants up in fleece or plastic sheet of some sort. Be particularly careful of the effect of wind chill, which can damage a plant in a few seconds.

It helps to pre-heat any vehicle you are putting the plants in; in our case we try and drive the van inside our greenhouse and load in there, but you can just run the engine for five minutes if that's not practical.

I now have the sad job of throwing all these plants in the chipper...