The gardeners, which over the years and till the present, have worked at the Lisboa Greenhouse are the soul of this place that has become one of Lisbon’s emblematic visiting points.
They know all the stories and have the accumulated knowledge of all the happenings around the greenhouse. They can identify every little mysterious corner and with their profound understanding of what each plant needs they take care of every single one of them.
The Lisboa Greenhouse gardeners are unsurpassed in their dedication and the pride with which they accomplish the multiple tasks that take place on any given day. Many of these tasks require quite hard labour and for the most part go unnoticed by the general public.
Their role is even more extraordinary if we think about the great changes that occurred within the Greenhouse in recent years in terms of major construction alterations and not one single specimen having been lost.
And who better to represent the gardeners than Mr. José Marques who has worked at the greenhouse for the past thirty years?
We asked him to identify some of the tasks that they develop at the greenhouse and he highlighted the following ones:
The planting of new specimens or the substitution of old ones is a task that requires the previous preparation of the soil. Normally the gardeners prepare a mixture of earth, sand and turf in different proportions depending on the type of plant and where it´s going to be placed. The gardeners always have to imagine what the plant will be like when it reaches maturity because they have to calculate if the space where they are planting it will be enough.
Paring and Pruning
New plants are always being born but these are normally weeds that take away nutrients from already well established plants. These weeds have to be removed with their root system intact so that they don’t grow again. The gardeners have to be very patient and with the help of a hoe and a pair of gloves they are continuously removing these unwanted plants.
All the showpiece plants have to be regularly pruned to cut away all the old or dead parts of the plant and to keep them from getting too dense or too big. This task also keeps the plants from developing diseases.
The watering of plants is one of the most important tasks at the Lisboa Greenhouse, but with some type of plants it has to be done by hand, especially with hot house plants like the maidenhair fern and the Paphiopedilum orchid. These plants have to be watered with the help of a hose and cannot receive water directly. Two gardeners are needed to accomplish this task, while one of the gardeners holds the front of the hose and controls the pressure and quantity of water, the other gardener positions the hose and keeps it from getting tangled so that the water supply is always guaranteed. The water is directed at the walls of the hot house and runs down the walls to the roots of the plants. All this has to be accomplished with the utmost care so that the earth isn´t washed away and the plants aren’t damaged.