green walls inside building

City of Westminster College

Paddington, London
August 2017

Our work with this central London college demonstrates how shared goals can lead to great things.

When the College first contacted us they were looking for a fresh approach to their current plant service, but, as an educational establishment, their budget was tight and they were unsure how to proceed. As keen advocates of Corporate Social Responsibility, they were also keen to ensure our working practices aligned with their own ethical priorities, such as sustainable practices and a healthy work-life balance.

Although the college already had plants, many were neglected, and they were looking for a fresh, thriving planting scheme which was also more cost effective.

The client understood the benefits of real plants on students and were keen to ensure live planting would feature in the scheme, as studies have proven that plants increase concentration, productivity and creative thinking in educational establishments. Most of all, they ideally wanted large trees as part of the scheme, but thought that this would be out of their price range.

After inspecting all the displays on site we found many plants, though tired, were in a reasonable state for us to cover for free replacement if they failed. On our suggestion, the college agreed a price to buy the containers with the current supplier who was unlikely re-use them.

We were also able to find cost savings through using ex-rental plants and containers already in our stock. We were even able to find a solution to the college’s wish for a tree, by sourcing a Bucida: a relatively new, and therefore cheaper, tree species. We took the client to Holland to look at the trees on offer and the selection has been so successful in situ that the college hopes to introduce more when budget allows.

By making use of old plants, new, cheaper species and existing stock, the project was completed at a much lower than expected price and much sooner than the college had anticipated.

We have also found that our working practices align well with that of the college. We issue a CSR report yearly detailing the local work we have undertaken with the community, and ensure we pay our on-site technician Monica a fair wage, in excess of the London Living Wage. We have also demonstrated a commitment to reducing waste and unnecessary resources by reusing what we can from existing planting and our own stock.

Since our initial installation, we have also supplied the college’s other site in Maida Vale with large trees that have come ‘off hire’ with one of our clients, again allowing us offer them more cheaply. In fact, they have asked us to offer any displays in that way for this site, an arrangement which benefits both the client and ourselves.

We have also been able to help the college to mitigate against plants being vandalised by students. We work with the college to replace with plants that we think will be less attractive to pull out (i.e. with no visible stem) and this has been successful to date.