Preparing the battleground

At last! An ‘Office Garden’ post!

Yep, it’s been a while, so long in fact that I simply cannot remember the last one.

In the light of the recent viral outbreaks – what? You think there’s only one? I thought it wise to do my usual thing and see if a cleaner lifestyle or just environment might yield better immunity against Covid 19. Okay, so I read an article on how houseplants can aid in health, from general well-being and mindfulness to more scientifically proven theories.  Amongst the houeplant growing community the NASA research of 1993 and subsequent book in 1995 is undoubtedly, folklore. Perhaps, mis-guidedly so, in that the sheer volume of plants to square footage required is just not practical for the home or work environment. However, that does not mean that we can’t borrow from the studies . Indeed we don’t actually want totally clean air for one very startlingly obvious reason:

It would reduce the efficiency of our immunity systems and ultimately we’d go the way of the martians from H.G. Wells’ – War of the Worlds. Yes I know the book is a work of fiction but it has science at its heart.

Photo of a very weakened Crassula
Come on Crassie, have a bit of fight in you…

Anyway, now that I’ve finished being pseudo-pedantic, the obvious place to me to ‘green up’ was my desk at work – seeing as I spend most time awake there and (sorry guys) there are statistically more pathogens around for me to absorb! It’s no secret that I like a good plant. Sadly, it’s no secret that I’m not so adept at keeping the poor buggers alive and in the last year have lost a fair few from my desk (owing to dehydrating and conversely over-hydrating), even now an unknown variety of Crassula is fighting for its life (c’mon Crassie, keep on in there!). But I have to try, my mother did have green fingers – I just don’t seem to have inherrited them and I am more of learn by experience kind of guy as far as all things horticultural are concerned.


Prior to today I had a desktop collection of:

  1. One Ficus Benjamina (in a 3″ pot)
  2. One Ficus Benjamina being trained as a bonsai
  3. Two Spider plants that were gifted to me by family
  4. A lemon and lime Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans) again this is not doing so well.
  5. A pretty poorly looking Christmas Cactus
  6. An Aldi Easter cactus which rewarded me with one flower…which promptly fell off!
  7. A Peperomia Obtusifolia which always looks like it’s struggling but has this year grown two new leaves (alas, one died back)
  8. A Calathea Rufibarba with leaves which look desert-touched, even though the soil is always moist!
  9. One Fiddle-leaved fig that did look really poorly but has now grown two big leaves and is looking happier
  10. A Fittonia (unknown variety) which was looking great until dehydrating here at Christmas and now looks like it is battling at best!
  11. A lovely Ficus Elastica which is growing really slowly but looks okay at the moment
  12. A weird air-plant
  13. A Peace lily which has been such a wilting snowflake but does get a really nice white flower
  14. One Dracaena deremensis Warneckii (yeah, we’re gonna need a common name for that some time soon!)
  15. A Madagascar Dracaena which seems to think it’s a type of grass as it will not grow in the vertical plane!

As well as other plants taking over our home (the golden Pothos is not so golden, yet it is amazing).

And that’s it…until you factor in this morning’s additions:

Photo of a newly purchased phlebosia
See the bunny?
Photo of a newly purchaesed Maidenhair Fern
What a stunner, set off by the blue background

Phlebosia – species as of yet not known, I’ve only just got it and it will take a while finding out. This was something of an impulse buy from Tesco for £2.50.I won’t lie, I did forget that some fern plant roots can end up looking downright creepy and what one botanist refers to as “Rabbit’s Foot” can look a lot more like “Tarantula’s Leg”. This little star already has a couple of furry apendages sprouting out of the soil, so we’ll just have to see what it transforms into and whether or not this is going to freak out me and the entire office! Adiantum – one of 250 known varieties referred to as “Maidenhair Fern” and isn’t she a super looking little bundle of joy? This was only £2.50 from Tesco.  I look at her and think ‘awww, isn’t she pretty?’ These plants have something of a reputation of being divas – well she’s gonna fit right in next that always-looking near death Calathea Rufibarba then! But it appears that the reputation they have is not earned and as long as the soil is always a bit on the moist side and the light is alright (it is, one thing we do get right here is the light is nice and ubiquitous!) then she should thrive away…not too fast I hope as I only have limited desk room and to be totally fair-minded, it is supposed to be an office and not my own personal fernary! But wouldn’t that be great?

Photograph of a newly purchased Polystichum Biaristatum
Ignore the monkey, feast your eyes on the Fern.

Anyway, one last purchase to feature and it is a weird sounding one. Polystichum Biaristatum for £5.00 from Morrisons. Yes, I’ve never heard of them either but a common name for it is Upright Shield -Fern, which returns no practical results at all from Google . It was with a ceramic pot which I have inadvertantly left in the car! This appears to be something of a newcomer to the houseplant world as there are just not many sites featuring it, I may have to contact Summer Rayne Oakes about this as what she doesn’t know about plants is not worth knowing!

And so that’s it for this minor update. On my next Saturday when I am here I may well take photos of all of the plants individually, plus some other other bigger ones that we have here, it’s all getting a bit more green and well that in itself gives the illusion of being happier and healthier. For those of you who are interested here are some links to give more in-depth details of NASA’s 1993 findings: