Fig trees at Portcullis House in the news again

on Tuesday, 20 March 2018. Posted in News

Following an article in The Guardian yesterday (19 March 2018) authored by gardening expert Alys Fowler suggesting that the fig trees at Portcullis House are wrong for the building - not least because of the cost of maintaining them - we have sent this release out today.

Figs courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of The Guardian (Alamy)

Plants at Work respond
Chris Jenkin, chairman of Plants at Work Ltd, the association for the interior landscaping industry has issued the following statement in response:

"The real issue with these trees seems to me to not be the fact that they are growing or that they are the wrong type of trees. The fact that they are growing so well indicates they are a good choice for the location and the environment.

The large lush canopies provide natural shade below saving large amounts of CO2 emissions and money by naturally reducing air-conditioning needs. Exactly what they were designed to do when the building was commissioned. Other species such as the palms suggested in the article just won’t do this.

Headline figures regarding costs can always be misleading and in this case appear to include additional environment improving plants throughout the building or even other services.
Even if this were not the case, most contracts of this type allow for replacement plants and for £138.00 per month per tree this looks like extremely good value for money given the savings they contribute.

From freedom of information requests the total cost is only 0.57% of the total cost for running the building. I have no doubt, that without the trees, their energy bill would be far greater than it is currently."

Not a social club for MPs
It is worth pointing out that Portcullis House is not a social club for MPs. it is a place of work where on average at least three times as many commons staff as MPs work. It is good to know that the people responsible for running an organisation as complex as a country really need a work space that encourages productivity, creativity, well-being and that it is good for the environment.

It would be massively irresponsible for the people charged with making the most difficult decisions for society to be working in an environment that is not optimal for their top performance. This isn't about making MPs comfortable, it's about making sure they work for us most effectively and take decisions in the best frame of mind possible.

Biophilia, productivity, well-being and more
At plants@work we are continually promoting the benefits of planting in working spaces, both indoors and out.

The biophilia theory - our biological need to connect with nature - has been shown to improve our well-being, our productivity and creativity and more, along with many other research studies showing the benefits of plants in the workplace.While the Mayor of London has recently issued a new focus on green infrastructure in London and fully understands the importance of planting.

8 features greener healthier office

Our government should be proud to seen to be leading the way in promoting healthy working spaces such as this. Like all aspects of building maintenance, they require investment and maintenance by professionals such as plants at work members.

"For Alys Fowler to suggest that MP’s should pop off to Ikea to by a cheese plant is both ridiculous and grossly underestimates the skills and dedication required to create such wonderful life-improving spaces.

(And I’m sure MP’s should have better things to do with their time; has Alys ever queued up in Ikea?) "


Additional notes:
On published figures, Portcullis House was home to 212 MPs and 640 commons staff in 2013. On the quoted costs this works out to £1.96 per person per month for the maintenance costs of the fig trees.

Plants at Work and some of its members are currently working with BRE on their Biophilic Office research project which The Guardian covered in its Green Pod publication last year.

Download our Plants - our perfect partners here which highlights many of the research studies to date.


We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Policy.

I accept cookies from this site

EU Cookie Directive Plugin Information