The garden season is definitely upon us in Vienna. Not only is everything blooming at the same time, we are experiencing crazy summer temperatures in April, and the fresh meadows are already full of wildflowers. I love being in green spaces, whether it is a garden, a park, or the woods. Growing at least some of my own vegetables and flowers though, adds another level of satisfaction.
You do not need a lot of space to try your hand at growing your own batch of fruits and veg, a box or a few large pots on a balcony will do. Many tomato varieties can be grown in pots, as can peppers, strawberries, lettuce, all herbs, and many more. You can even plant fruit trees in pots – there are special varieties that do not require a lot of space and don´t spread out that much.
If you are just starting out, I have found tomatoes pretty easy to keep happy – as long as they get enough sun and are not rained on much.
Right now you can find organic vegetables from several sources in a lot of markets and shops. A personal favorite of mine are the Arche Noah pop-up stores. They also carry some uncommon varieties of vegetables. Speaking of a bit unusual, there is an organic fig farm in Vienna, where you can buy fig trees and fruits, but also vegetables. Fresh figs are available from July to October. The Umweltberatung has a list of additional sources for your seeds and seedlings. Of course you can find organic vegetable seedlings in most supermarkets as well these days.
If you are going to just have flowers rather than vegetables, my advice would be to look for those that are good for pollinators and butterflies. That means foregoing filled blossoms for the simpler, more original varieties. Garden centers can advise you on “bee-friendly” flowers. Some herbs make very pretty blossoms (e.g. chives, winter savory, thyme, oregano, dill) and are really attractive to pollinating insects.
Finding inspiration at flower markets and garden fairs
I love going to garden fairs. You can see lots of beautiful blooms and accessories, and I usually pick up at least a couple of new plants, but it is also just fun to wander about and admire the colours. I´ve gathered some tips on where to find inspiration in the next few weeks.
Flower markets in Vienna – Vienna Gardeners offering their products at different locations.
Gartentag 2018 at the University of Veterinary Medicine – yes, the Vetmeduni Vienna also has its own little botanical garden. On 4 May 2018 you will find a seedling market with various garden herbs, fragrant, medicinal, and aromatic plants, as well as organic vegetables and fruit plants. A special for garden-loving pet owners: Which plants are toxic to animals? – expert advice!
Gartenfreuden – a type of fair in a gorgeous castle setting with flowers, vegetables, and accessories; Culinary offerings as well: 4 – 6 May 2018 at Burg Perchtoldsdorf; 1 – 3 June 2018 at Schloss Stainz.
Citrus Days in Schönbrunn – Exhibition and sale of citrus plant variety, guided tours, and talks by experts from the School for Horticulture at Schönbrunn: 18-21 May 2018; Presented by the Austrian Federal Gardens and the Austrian Horticultural Society.
Salon Jardin – another fair, in the castle park of Hetzendorf: 25-27 May 2018 (Note: No dogs allowed in the park)
Natur im Garten Fest in Laxenburg – Tips and tricks for your own garden directly from the experts of the campaign “Nature in the garden”: 2-3 June 2018
Die Garten Tulln – not just for gardeners, a really fantastic space with many different garden types, offering workshops and all kinds of inspiration, a tree walk, and a playground. Great place for a family outing. You can even rent a boat and paddle through the adjacent very green wetlands. Open until November.
Gartensommer Niederösterreich – all kinds of show gardens in Lower Austria
Want more space? Try getting a vegetable garden allotment
If you are a bit more ambitious and want something larger than a few big pots, maybe allotment gardening is for you. You may have noticed that there are more and more organic community gardens all over Vienna. The Urban Gardening in Wien website seems to have a pretty complete list of several locations with veggie boxes or lots where you can get involved in a community gardening project.
Have you ever noticed the farm-like scenery in front of Augarten, right in the heart of the city? I think it is just gorgeous.
Grow your own lots (between 20 and 80 m² depending on the supplier) can be rented and are sometimes pre-planted by farmers with a variety of vegetables, to which you can add your own selection according to your preference. You do the watering, weeding, and perhaps fertilizing with organic fertilizers, and you get to take home your own bounty of vegetables.
There are many locations in several districts of Vienna. The City of Vienna offers its own lots in the 22nd district in Essling.
No time for gardening, but love gardens?
If you do not have the time or inclination to garden yourself, but still enjoy discovering beautiful gardens, there are quite a few exhibition gardens you can visit in and outside Vienna. Here is just a selection of personal favorites.
- Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna – A garden oasis in the centre of Vienna; starting on 11 May they will have an exhibition on the EU project Big Picnic – Big Questions on Food Security.
- Rose Days at the Baden Rosarium – not far from Vienna, this promises to be a feast for the eyes; from 2-24 June
- Arche Noah – They specialize in ancient varieties of food plants and have a large exhibition garden.
- Museumsdorf Niedersulz – Actually this is an entire museum village with old farm houses and the like. Many of these feature outstanding flower and vegetable gardens. Really worth a day trip. Food and drinks are available on site in a very charming setting.
- Gartenlust – A list of several exhibition gardens in Austria. I´ve visited some, but not all of these special gardens.
I hope you find some of these tips useful. Gardening is a fun and healthy hobby. It´s a bit of managed nature in your own space or neighbourhood.