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St. Petersburg is more than «The Neva clad in granite», more than history petrified in stone. St. Petersburg is a city of majestic parks, boulevards and vistas, both old and very new. The architects of many of the more recent masterpieces of garden architecture are landscape artists from Specialized Construction Department №5 (SCD-5). Their verdant chefs d’oeuvre include the park in Sosnovaya Poliana, the plantings along Staro-Petergofsky Prospect and Engelsa Prospect, to name a few. This year, SCD -5 has been doing work in the 9th of January Garden, Konstantinovsky Palace, Alexandrovsky Garden, Aptekarskaya Embankment, and elsewhere. Boris Vikharev, Director of SCD-5, told us about his team first. «I’m really proud of them, all of our 130 employees. Many of our specialists have been doing their professional work in the city and the region for 25 years or longer. These are top professionals, peerless masters. But our younger employees are a good match for them. Before, we used to recruit new staff from among vocational school graduates. Today, we just use the regular employment process, hiring people, literally, off the street and training them on the job. Few of our employees ever leave, even though our work is highly specialized, seasonal, and involves much outdoor exposure. The fact is, we really value our employees. We give them social protection. Our staff appreciate this, and they pay back by doing their best job. With people like that, we can take on any landscaping project and rest assured of success.» Some residents are wary of landscapers and the work they do. They do not realize that trees grow old and need to be replaced. Sometimes SCD-5 professionals have to listen to accusation they don’t deserve. The unit responsible for felling unsafe trees usually has to bear the brunt of popular anger. This year, the unit has removed 1200 trees that could have caused trouble. SCD-5 frequently has to work under tremendous time pressure. One such project was the planting subcontract in the Ushakovskaya Traffic Junction area, where the company planted some 350 trees and shrubbery on about 4.5 hectares. Alongside major assignments, which SCD-5 staff refer to as ‘address jobs,’ the company landscapes regular public areas. A typical project of this kind was completed last year at Marshala Zakharova Prospect, where two abandoned lots were turned into wonderful parks with recreational facilities and playgrounds for children. Many more similar projects have been completed by SCD-5 in the city. Like any construction company, SCD-5 does experience occasional difficulties. The company’s specialists are particularly concerned about the quality of their planting supplies. Apparently, there are no suppliers in the city who would assure the high quality and the right quantity of planting soil, so SCD-5 professionals have to source the supplies themselves. They procure their planting soil from suburban farmers and the owners of land plots where construction is planned. SCD-5 needs a lot of soil, between 120,000 and 140,000 cubic meters annually. Quality seedlings are also hard to come by. So far, despite their current economic difficulties, four suburban nurseries have been able to keep up steady supply. But SCD-5 has been increasingly compelled to source its seedlings elsewhere, and pay a very high price for them. When asked if the upcoming city anniversary has affected his company’s business, Vikharev replied: «There is more work to do now, and time is running out, but this has by no means affected the quality of our work. The warranties we give our client when the work is done will always be honored». The nature of landscaping is such that, to an untrained eye, the true beauty of landscapers’ completed work is not always immediately apparent. As landscaping specialists say, their plantings must first ‘rise above the ground,’ ‘grow up,’ or ‘power up.’ Some time this is bound to happen. Specialized Construction Department №5 (SCD-5) 8 Nab. Reki Fontanki Saint-Petersburg, Russia Tel. + 7 (812) 272-6020
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