Prior to enrolling into the Undergraduate Agronomy Study Programme at the Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, and ultimately graduating, I had already made sure to gain valuable knowledge and experience by taking up student jobs at the Ljubljana Botanical Garden, several local nurseries as well as garden centres. Meeting Mrs. Jelena de Belder Kovačič and learning through work at her estate, Hemelrijk, in Belgium in 2002 was, however, my first professional turning point. In 2009, I revisited Belgium as a volunteer/trainee to work at the Arboretum Kalmthout.
In 2012, I was invited for the first time by Borut Benedejčič to contribute to his garden creation at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. Borut had up until then already been awarded a gold medal and aword for the best garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show 2009. Collaborating with him constituted a compelling story in my professional career. After all, he is an horticultural expert from the Karst Region, and the most widely recognized Slovenian garden design giant abroad. Borut invited me to grow perennials from seed for his garden Pepina zgodba (Pepa’s Story). Ultimately, the garden received the second highest recognition, a Silver Gilt Award. Three years later, I reunited with Benedejčič to contribute to another one of his garden design projects, called Vodna postaja (Water Station), also exhibited at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. I prepared a proposal focusing on herbaceous perennials, and grew them for the event. This garden, too, received the second highest recognition, a Silver Gilt Award.
Visiting European gardens, parks and horticultural exhibitions represents a regular occurrence for me, however, when I am in my home country Slovenia, I mostly focus on excursions into nature. The natural environment does not only provide me with opportunities for relaxation, but also serves as an indispensable source of inspiration hiding in the living and non-living elements of natural beauty. The latter represent a cause for admiration and a basis for learning by observing the vast range of plant combinations, and by considering specific organic requirements of individual plant species. Studying plants is not limited anymore to my home country that, nevertheless, still remains my main area of interest. Thanks to various acquaintances, I have been given the chance to see some of the most wonderful spots in Europe, and in 2015, my professional path extended all the way to the dramatic landscape of Sikkim in the Himalayas. This international expedition to Sikkim, with the purpose of studying local flora, was partially sponsored by the International Dendrological Society.
Since 2009, I have been managing my own nursery in Ljubljana, specializing in perennials. Since then, I have also been writing for several horticultural magazines, supplement publications and newspapers. In addition to writing articles, I dedicate some of my time to writing books. Among them, one in particular should be mentioned, as it was translated for the foreign (French) market and entitled Vivaces sans arrosange (Translator’s Note: Growing perennials without water). In 2016, my career took another major turn, as I became editor-in-chief of the horticultural magazine Rože in vrt (Translator’s Note: Flowers and Garden).
What is my goal? Gain as much knowledge as possible, not just by visiting various gardens and nature, and through copious amounts of reading, but also by nurturing existing and new professional relationships with horticulture experts and gardening enthusiasts. When one decides to receive, it quickly becomes clear that each new acquaintance has something to give. After all, it is not just about the plants. I want to share all the knowledge I have acquired over the years and use my engagement to contribute to a greater general interest for nature and horticulture alike, while also adding something extra to our common “garden culture” and thus spread some joie de vivre.