Our guest blogger this week is Elisa Biondi, of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew

HOUSE PLANT HEROES

Like me, many people nowadays don`t have a garden to grow plants, especially in the cities. But I love those green wonders and I have plenty of them at home. There is a plant for any space and purpose, so here is my list of “plant heroes” to enjoy indoor.

If you don`t have a bright green finger, there are low maintenance heroes for you such as Succulents and air plants. Amongst the first bunch, Cacti are very sculptural, they like sunny spots and they produce short-lived but stunning flowers. They are not very children and pet friendly, though.

Tillandsias attached on bark using tights. They are very resistant and stretchy.

Tillandsias (air plants) are incredibly easy to look after, water them in the shower or with a sprayer once a week and keep them in airy space. They are great hanging off fishing line or attached on branches.

Amongst succulents, lithops (stone plants) are great for small spots, children and pets. If you are looking for something bigger and bolder, Sansevierias are the ones for you. Like Cacti, every succulent can be placed in your bedroom, as they release oxygen at night.

Sansevierias are very architectural plants and are great for bedrooms as they release oxygen at night.

If you are looking for something a bit more challenging, Bromeliads can add a lot of colour into your house. They usually like water from the top and last longer if you cut the spent flowering mother plant and let the “pups” grow.

The stunning leaves of Neoregelia `Mo Peppa Please`, a great hybrid and not too difficult to look after.

In the world of Orchids, Phalaenopsis are very rewarding and easy to look after. They don`t like full sun and should be watered properly once every two weeks.

If you are blessed with big space, then you can look into architectural plants like Palms and big Aroids. Coconut Palm can grow quite fast so tall ceilings are a must, otherwise clumping ones such as Chamaedorea, Dypsis or Rhapis can work in smaller places.

Monstera is a very popular aroid and it is very easy to look after, same for Philodendron and Aglaonema. One negative note about Aroids is that they are poisonous, so keep them off the reach of children and pets.

There are plenty more plants to find out about and look after them so I just suggest to go ahead and find your plant heroes!

Elisa Biondi  – Manager of the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. Graduated designer @ LCGD, Plants & animals lover.  Find her on Twitter @BiondiEli and Instagram elisabiondi1

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Waldo Viljoen

Always fish for the ‘dream and vision’….even if there is not budget for it! Give plenty of time to think, listen well, and let the clients ideas tell the story. Visualise, compliment and complement the client! That’s the key to a productive client meeting.

I like to walk with the client, ask most of the questions, as if the client inspired them, to get to know the client, their preferences, dislikes, budget if possible, ideas, dreams and ultimate vision.

I give the client professional advice based on years of experience, and my short cuts too (no need to go to China to have Chinese food) but never compromise quality or quantity. Less is ALWAYS more !! ….well, enough anyway.

My presentation of my visual interpretation of what the client and I decided is basic and with common names of plants (no Latin or botanical names now, not yet), basic description of materials, tools, etc to be used, time it should take, always allowing days for the unforseen and unknown, and a estimated start date.

I keep to my word and my word is still my honour. Clients need to feel important. They must trust me with their dreams and passion for gardening as well as their money ! Not too much deviance from what was discussed and agreed. The client must be able to deviate with budget constraints, or extra ideas/features thought of after I left the meeting and before submitting my design and estimate. I do not over- nor under-quote any other than might be applicable. My design and visual portrait must represent exactly what the client dreamed of and wanted for a long time, must excite and inspire a client to look past small monetary amounts and schemes of my competitors. THE ONE WHO LISTENED & INTERPRETED THE CLIENT’s VISION closest, should get the job most of the time. BUT NOT ALWAYS.

And I do the basics perfectly:

I follow up ALL missed calls, voice mail messages, telesales leads, any message left to return a call for new client or business.

I do my homework, look up, Google and study or learn whatever I might lack or if I need more information and details for that Client’s requirements. I pray to God that he will keep me wise and full of knowledge from years of passionate experiences as to serve Him and the client and my profession. 

I make sure I know what the client requires and get all the details, full address, alternate tel.no. from cell number and a time that would not only suit the client, but myself, taking in account the weather, peak traffic periods, road works in area and for me not to hurry, AS I AM ALWAYS EARLY !

I dress very neat, smart casual, clean shaven and smelling the look… lol

I make sure I know how to get to clients address, with Google maps, GPS or Map Studio book.

I always arrive early, 15-20 minutes. 10 minutes before the agreed time is a good time to walk up to the house or meeting place. If you are gonna be late, up to 10 minutes is allowed, later than that, I phone or send a text message, making sure its delivered, even acknowledged, well before agreed time, THE CLIENT’s TIME IS MOST IMPORTANT.

So is mine. I bill accordingly. lol.

I assure the client that they would have my estimate within 3 working days, if not too busy a period, but it can stretch to 7-10 days BUT it includes computer/laptop software design program WITH 2D/3D Landscape plant plan as per Vectorworks Landscape Design, AutoCad Landscaping, Landscape Design Pro and AutoCad Architecture, AutoCad Civil design for construction and building work.

My motto:

BE INSPIlRING, BE FUN and even FUNNY, BE PROFESSIONAL, BE FAIR. BE REASONABLE , SMILE & LAUGH ALOT

AND

DO NO HARM; environment, profession and not the Client’s wallet.

Word of Mouth references serves and pay me well still after 31-Years.

Thank God always and everytime, even if estimate is Not accepted. All meetings of people are meant to be, is placed on our paths, both parties or just one learns or take something forward from that meeting – Say I.

WALDO VILJOEN. Passionate Christian, Horticulturist, Agriculturist and Environmentalist and Living Life Participant.

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Caroline Vickers

Crisp, crunchy, juicy eating and cooking apple trees.

How wonderful it would be to harvest apples from ones own garden or plant a community orchard in your village from which everyone can benefit.

The pretty delicate pale pink and white Springtime blossoms are softly fragrant and wonderful for encouraging bees too. Ripening on the trees as I write, we have several edible apples growing on our 350 acre tree nursery in Ely, Cambridgeshire suitable for planting this Autumn:- Malus bramley seedling – standard and espallier Cox’s Orange Pippin – espallier Malus James Grieve – standard and espallier Malus Discovery Malus Jonagold – standard and espallier

We also grow other fruits:- Edible cherries, Pears, Figs, Plums, Greengage, Quince. An interesting fact, there is no VAT on trees which bear edible fruits!

When you plant a tree from a tree nursery, it will need nurturing in the landscape for the first 2 years until it will be independent. The tree will need to be staked and tied and regularly watered.

Source trees from a UK nursery with a robust Biosecurity Policy. Each tree should have an audit trail to show where the seed came from and how long it has been growing in the UK. This helps prevent the spread of tree pests and diseases from imported trees into our glorious landscape.

Caroline Vickers

Brand Awareness Manager

Barcham Trees PLC

Visit www.barchampro.co.uk – trade website.

Visit www.barcham.co.uk – retail website.