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#Skelia_talks with Ira, QA Engineer at Skelia Lviv

In one way or another, everybody loves flowers. But have you ever considered raising them at home and tracking every step of their growth? Ira from Skelia Lviv does know what it’s like, to grow flowers with your own hands and enjoy them blooming. In this interview, she shares how emotionally charging is to see the beauty you’ve grown. Who knows, maybe you have green fingers too? Be ready to get inspired!

  • Hi Ira, tell a bit about yourself.
  • Hi! I’ve been working at Skelia as a QA engineer for over half a year now. I started from manual testing but now trying my hand at automated testing. I am lucky to be in such a great team where I can harness my skills and grow professionally. I get a lot of support and knowledge from my colleagues, which is precious! I love that we have a big challenging project and a well-managed team. 
It’s nice to have a year-round blooming garden.
  • What about your hobby?
  • Well, I have many different ones but more than anything, I like planting flowers. It’s not just a hobby but a whole part of my life. It’s really fascinating to me, seeing how they grow. I’ve been growing flowers of various kinds, some of them start blooming in the early spring and others bloom till the late autumn. It’s nice to have a year-round blooming garden.
  • I only can imagine! Do you have a special place for your flowers?
  • I plant flowers that are not much demanding – like petunias or roses – on my balcony. And for all the other flowers I’ve collected, I use my mom’s garden: I go there in the middle of the week or on the weekend to raise, care for, and, most importantly, enjoy the flowers.
  • How did you get into gardening?
  • It seems that I’ve always had flowers in my life. I vividly remember how my father was getting my mother flowers while I was little or how I and my brother always tried to pick flowers for mom on the 8th of March. I also liked it when someone brought me flowers, as well as when I gave them to others and could see how pleased they were. It all started as simply as that.
    At first, the process was chaotic: I didn’t know what to focus on and wanted to plant all the flowers I could imagine. But each flower has its own needs; some require more sunlight, while others thrive in the shade. Many flowers died so I needed to do my research and learn what I did wrong. As I was learning more about different flowers, I developed a more balanced approach. I can’t say I’m a professional gardener now – but I definitely do it thoughtfully. And it’s been 5 years of planting flowers in a nuanced way – together with my mom, I’ve gathered a huge collection and got accustomed to the process.
  • I guess there’s always more to learn. How do you deepen your knowledge?
  • When I get interested in a new flower, say, a certain rose variety, I discover what exactly it requires, what diseases might infect it, what insects can cause damage to it, what care is needed. When I know all these aspects, I decide if I am able to provide the flower with everything it needs. I search for the information on the internet, and recently, I’ve joined some Facebook groups dedicated to gardening where users share interesting details and seek advice about the problems they encounter. There’s always someone who can support you and give a valuable tip. So I’m constantly learning something new about flowers.
  • What are those Facebook groups?
  • I am a member of two groups, one is based in the Lviv region and the other has users all over Ukraine. We make international group orders, for example, on flowers from the Netherlands: it allows us to have a wider selection and cut costs on delivery. Sometimes, we buy flowers from one another or exchange them. It’s a great opportunity to extend the collection with many interesting species. My mom says the choice wasn’t as nearly as good in the Soviet times – she’s excited that now there are so many plants to choose from one doesn’t know where to look first.
    We also plan and go on sanctuary trips to discover something new about various plants. Biologists give very informative tours there. For instance, I’ve learned that feather grass grows not exclusively in plains. Or, during our most recent trip, I’ve seen rare varieties of orchids.
  • As you’ve said, there’s a much wider choice of types and colors now. What newly discovered flowers impressed you most?
  • One flower was previously considered to have just one color, while now some varieties may have 2 or 3. Speaking of colors, I’ve grown very peculiar tulips of dark violet color with double petals. I also like orange tulips with pink highlights and two-tone peonies. I’ve raised white peonies with red elements and this was a very challenging task.
  • What are the most exotic flowers you’ve planted?
  • Flowers that bloom in winter were a surprising discovery for me. There’s a flower called hellebore that grows under the snow and starts blooming in February. Seeing a newly born flower during a snowy season is truly something special.
Seeing a newly born flower during a snowy season is truly something special.
  • Do you have favorite flowers?
  • No, I like them all! Be it tulips, crocuses, dahlias, gladioli, or asters… Each of them has its blooming season and each is a joy to see. Although maybe, tulips are my favorite. When they bloom, it’s like the awakening after the winter, the explosion of colors. 
  • And what about the process itself, what do you like doing the most?
  • It’s hard to pick one thing. Say, planting tulip bulbs is a demanding process but when tulips show their blossom in the early spring, you forget about all the difficulties and enjoy the blooming. This is what gives me positive energy – so I surround myself with flowers everywhere: at my mom’s house, at my apartment, and at work. When I bring flowers to the workplace, they light up everybody’s mood.
    Surely, dealing with flower diseases is no fun but this treatment is an important part of the overall care. Flowers are like people: if they get sufficient care, they feel better. 
    You can always buy a flower somewhere but it’s not the same: when you plant them with your hands and see their growth, it’s a totally different feeling. 
  • Do you cut the blossoms or do you leave them to grow?
  • Sometimes, I cut them to enjoy myself or to give to someone as a gift. Before that, I make pictures for social media. We share our photos in groups and it’s quite inspiring not only to see different flowers but to discover how others manage their gardens. I’ve recently put a table in my garden and I just can’t describe that marvelous feeling I get when I have my morning coffee, hearing the birds sing and taking in the view. It makes my whole day brighter.
There are also many types of roses you can try growing.
  • I believe many people might want to start their own little garden after this interview. Any advice?
  • First of all, decide what flowers do you want to plant: annual or perennial, big or small. I would suggest starting from chrysanthemums if you want an annual flower and asters or marigolds if you want a perennial one. They are not demanding in care but are rich in color. Before planting, learn what type of soil and light your flower requires. For spring bloom, I would advise – crocuses, tulips and for summer and autumn – asters, marigolds, gladiolus, chrysanthemums.
    There are also many types of roses you can try growing. For example, the Chippendale rose that has a nice orange and pink color blend and is very fragrant doesn’t require special conditions. Or, the Heidi Klum rose is a fragrant lilac-colored flower you can start from. If you’re more into something traditional, the red Leonardo Da Vinci rose is also good for beginners.  I chose roses for myself according to the following criteria – aroma, resistance to various diseases and our Lviv rains, flowering until late autumn.
    And the most important thing: if you’ve chosen a flower and you’re ready to care for it, it’s definitely worth it. You will see how your flower grows and shares its beauty – which is truly amazing.

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