Porto Montenegro is now home to over 25,000 plants that require year-round care and maintenance. Landscaping Maintenance Manager Bozena Graic recently instigated a new initiative to create an on-site greenhouse growing annual herbs and flowers during the colder months, here’s why…
PJ: Bozena how long have you been with Porto?
BG: I started in December 2009, so that’s over six years! Before that I was mainly doing private residences landscape design and volunteer work while studying landscape architecture at Belgrade University. Mediterranean plan diversity is something that I have been always interested in and for me there is something truly special and purifying in that particular mix of scents that keeps fascinating me. I guess you could say my whole life has been dedicated to studying Mediterranean plants so far.
PJ: Describe your role here as Landscape Maintenance Manager.
BG: I lead the Landscape team, a large part of my role involves coaching and training my team. As many of them do not have a formal educational background in this sector, it’s inspiring to see how they are all passionate about what they do and are looking to grow and develop in that direction. Other part considers creation of design improvement, coordinating contractors, following progress of plants health and maintenance and off course administrative side of the job.
PJ: Tell us about the plants you are growing in the new greenhouse here on site.
BG: That idea was born two years ago when we saw that during rainy winter periods there wasn’t as much landscaping work to do, so we wanted to create a project that would ensure we were fully productive in that quiet period and that would have some benefit once spring came. From there we made a plan for a protected shelter with its own microclimate conditions that would allow us to continue growing plants away from the elements and also protect some sensitive plant species from frost and strong winds.
PJ: So it’s a seasonal project?
BG: Yes, the greenhouse serves us from winter through to spring when we can produce annual plants in there. It is a stainless steel construction, covered with a special plastic sheets so it’s made to be highly durable. Greenhouse production also has the added benefit of helping the team to understand the whole growing process of annuals – how to tend to the plants, what conditions each variety requires to grow well and so on.
PJ: Where do the plants go once they’re ready?
BG: These plants are mainly for the terra-cotta pots in the village, we have over 200 of them believe it or not. An average pot can be filled with 30 bulbs, so you can count how many plants we need for creating full effect! Bulbs such as Muscari, Crocus and Hyacinth arrive by early spring, then after that we’ll grow some interesting summer species produced from the seed.
PJ: Are there any particular factors to consider when growing plants here in the micro-climate of the Boka Bay?
BG: Basically the climate in Tivat is what we can describe as typically Mediterranean, with lots of sunny days and mild winters. This helps us to produce plants in the greenhouse and we can install them outside without worries of the late winter frosts. At the moment we have a large number of indigenous Mediterranean species such as pines, olives, rosemary and lavender.
PJ: What other plant types do we have here?
BG: Besides Mediterranean, our plant design is a contemporary mix of subtropical and tropical plant species, so if you look carefully enough you will also see exotic plants such as Passion fruit, Feijoa fruit, King Bird-of-paradise flower and Banksia trees.
PJ: Give us some sense of the scale of this maintenance task.
BG: We have 20,000 sq. of public area to cover, it’s a big job! Most of our plants can’t survive by themselves either as they are in planters or pots with limited soil and water, it’s not like they are living in a field in nature, so they depend on human factor. So, after the process of design and implementation is over, a regular schedule and carefully planned maintenance is essential.
With the strong faculty base and experience gained here, cooperating with some of the internationally recognized experts from our profession, I realized that the essence of every vocation, especially of landscape architecture, is to truly love what you do and keep upgrading your knowledge and skills.
Of course, the best satisfaction and motive for the great work is hearing words of praise and admiration from our clients and visitors of Porto Montenegro!