Monday, November 2, 2009

Trip to Vienna, a few gardens

Just back from a long weekend in Vienna, I have at least found a few garden-related things to post, despite the cold, damp November weather there.

The first place we visited was Belvedere Castle, which possesses a vast formal garden with floral patterns formed only by boxwood, grass, and colored gravel. The view from ground level is not very spectacular (see above, click any photo to enlarge), but the view that the prince had from his upstairs chambers reveals more.

Way down at the other end of the gardens, beyond the high-hedged mazes and around to the side of the Lower Belvedere, we discovered another formal garden (with some modern sculptures) enclosed by a wall covered by vines in breathtaking fall colors, I think Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata Veitchii).

Speaking of Boston Ivy, we also encountered some growing from a small window planter - had never seen that before!

More on the level of my own modest boxwood hedging efforts (see my post), I was delighted to discover the garden in the back of the last house that Haydn lived in, from 1797 until his death in 1808. It's easy to imagine that it still looks the way it did back in Haydn's day. You can rent an audiophone and listen to "Die Schöpfung" while sitting on a bench in this garden. This last great work of his was composed in this house. I highly recommend a visit there if you're interested in Haydn and life in Vienna in his day.

We also visited the Vienna Central Cemetery, the second largest in all of Europe and resting place of Beethoven, Strauss, Schubert and many other inhabitants of that city, great and humble. The entire cemetery is laid out like a formal, symmetrical garden, with the Art Nouveau chapel and the mausoleum of all of Austria's presidents as centerpiece.

It's a beautiful place. I found the old Jewish section the most beautiful of all, and the fall colors made a wonderful backdrop to the lushly overgrown gravestones.

OK, this is completely off-topic, but I can't resist. Instead of posting pictures of any of the usual touristy things to do in Vienna, here are two pictures of the most beautiful public lavatories I've ever encountered. They are underground in the area between St. Stephen's Cathedral and the Hofburg, with the kind of stairs leading down to them that would not be confidence-inspiring in most European cities. But I braved it, to discover highly polished wood, beautiful tiling, and for each guest an immaculate personal booth with toilet, sink, soap and towels. There was an attendant on duty, and the whole thing cost 50 cents. I sent my husband down to the men's - same story.


  1. Hi Barbara, as much as it would be nice to look out from the prince's bedroom and see that view, I prefer Haydn's garden. I could just see myself sitting under that chestnut tree. Is that an espalier, beside the bench? Love the concrete (stone?) ornament as well.

  2. My favorite is the prince's view from Belvedere Castle. Did you take that picture yourself? The pics are very nice and the weather on that day anyway seems to have cooperated. I also like the ivy from the flower pot. Must see Vienna someday.

  3. Hi Deborah, yes it was some kind of espalier in Haydn's garden, but I couldn't tell what since not enough leaves anymore, but not fruit trees I don't think. I was reading a brochure we took along that said they'd made an effort to design the garden in accordance with customs in the 18th century. Fun!

  4. Hi Laura, yes we took all the pictures ourselves except for the aerial view of the cemetery which I copped off a Viennese tourist website.

  5. Loved the red ivy on the wall! The spirals in the prince's garden view are unique and fun to look at, but I agree with Deborah about sitting under the tree in Haydn's sanctuary. Although I tend to like sculpted, formal gardens as well as informal. Just depends upon the plantings and my mood that day. Glad you had a nice trip, despite the weather.

  6. Barbara, I have tagged you for an Honest Scrap award. Check my blog 12 hours from now. If you do not wish to accept, that is ok, no pressure.

  7. Hi Deborah, I am intrigued and will certainly check. I just researched what the Honest Scrap Award is. Sounds like another way of networking on Web 2.0!

  8. Hi Barbara, loved your post on those lovely gardens. And it's not every day that we get to see photos of public lavoratories on a gardening blog. How is your allotment garden faring? Have you put it to bed for the winter? --Lou

  9. Thanks for introducing beautiful Vienna, Barbara. I've enjoyed your lovely post and pics of autumn colors are fabulous!