Anyone who visits the Jacksons offices these days will arrive into a plant-filled, light and bright open-plan space with a comfy sofa or two to lounge on near to an archipelago of desks, chairs and of course the lovely team of people who sit on those chairs. Admittedly, there are a lot of stairs to conquer on the way up to the office but hopefully they’ll be a thing of the past soon. No, we’re not getting a lift put in. We’re planning our move to a new, even more modern and wonderful space (with far fewer steps) but you’ll have to wait until the new year to hear more about that.
This article is actually about the plants within the office, how they made their entrance and how they make those of us who work surrounded by them every day feel. In writing this piece there was one main person I had to chat with first, our plant lady aka Tracey Thatcher. What I learned from my conversation with Trace was that years ago, well before most of us newbies joined the Jacksons team, it all started with just one plant that Trace brought in from home to brighten up her desk. From there, we progressed to having three plants in the office for a while. That is until a couple of years ago, seeing the joy these plants gave to the team and the care with which Trace tended to them, Pete decided to give Tracey a small plant budget to buy a few more plants for the office and that’s when the collection started to explode and grow into what it is today.
We’re not saying you need to have lots of money to enjoy being surrounded by a jungle of houseplants though. Many of our fabulous and most favourite plants have been free, taken as cuttings from other plants, rescued, rejuvenated, and risen from the dead – like aptly named Jesus, the yukka. Please, don’t get me started on the names of the plants in the office, or rather their monikers, or we’ll be here all day. Sideshow Bob is perhaps worth mentioning though, and if you’re a Simpsons fan I’m sure you’ll easily guess which plant he is.
We even have a plant nursery, so any plants that are looking a little lack-lustre can be brought down to sit beside Tracey’s desk. There, they can get the care they need to spring back to living their best lives, before being returned to their individual owners.
Not all of us are as green-fingered as Trace. Some of us are of course, but some of us have been known to kill-off cacti at home (Me) and others (Zoe) have even named their desk-plant after Gloria Gaynor, the famous American singer of the hit song ‘I will Survive’, in a hope of keeping it alive. Sadly Gloria didn’t make it, but Zoe now has a lovely desk cactus named Colin who is doing just swell (he’s plastic).
Chas admitted to killing every plant he had ever had to look after until recently. He says he’s a changed man when it comes to plants. Now he sometimes even greets them when he gets into his office in the mornings. He finds that having plants nearby is good for his health and improves his sense of wellbeing. We’re impressed. Keep up the good work with the spraying and watering Chas!
Tracey’s top tips for looking after plants are:
- Start small and pot on. Even big plants start out small and it’s cheaper and easier to start with young plants and see how you get on, rather than investing in established plants that may not like the environment.
- If you know what a plant is, you can search online for how to take a cutting of it. Growing from cuttings is a great way to get lots more plants.
- All plants really need is light, warmth, soil/nutrients and a bit of water.
- Don’t get too hung up on the instructions that come with plants.
- If it’s dry, water it. But be careful not to overwater. If in doubt, don’t water it.
- Misting is great for plants that like humidity.
- Just give it a go, try it and see.
- An easy houseplant to start with would be a spider plant. And you can propagate new plants from the babies it makes. Just snip them off from the main plant and pop them on top of some compost in a pot.
There are so many great things about nurturing plants both inside and in the garden. There’s a real sense of achievement, even joy when you take a plant that looks like it’s struggling and bring it back to life. If you’re feeling stressed, taking some time to focus on tending to the plants is a great way to unwind; it’s very calming. In fact, the power of plants and gardening for mindfulness, wellbeing and improving mental health is quite amazing.
Hayley never had any interest in gardening and houseplants until her Mother died. She shared this poignant and beautiful reflection on her own experience of growing plants:
“I only started with a few house plants after my Mom died to keep my brain occupied, I thought if I can look after these babies I can probably look after myself and it gave me something to look forward to. It totally takes over my brain and if I was thinking about plants, I wasn't thinking about how sad I was. I always loved a quote along the lines of "to plant a garden is to believe in a tomorrow" as it really resonated with me. Keeping plants is so hopeful, you do your best and have to hope they will survive. You plant bulbs in autumn and hope they will bloom in spring etc. There really is a plant for every room/situation/person - all needing something different to thrive, just like us.”
The space around us at work and home should make us feel warm and safe; as a team we believe that the plants provide an environment that we can rest easy in. We all appreciate Tracey keeping a keen eye on our plant-parenting and like any part of our day, if we are not in the office our plants are looked after by another team member, because that’s how we do things here.
So, maybe it’s time to take that leap, buy something that makes you feel happy, put it in your favourite space, give it some love and watch it grow.