[Infographic] How to create your urban garden?
There’s a great passion for gardening in Central Europe, and following this trend people’s interest is going in favour of the care of private and public green spaces. The habit of growing fruits, vegetable and herbs at home, in an eco-friendly perspective and with the aim to contrast everyday’s frenzy is getting more and more common. As Central European markets gradually expand, their citizens feel the desire to rediscover the pleasure of welcoming friends and family in a nice and looked-after garden.
During the past few decades, population of Central European countries has grown fast. As this process has involved several cities, there’s been a requirement to create new public spaces, where architects and landscapers have tried to link green spaces to buildings by skillfully integrating them in the urban pattern. In order to better understand how the care of green spaces – both public and private – is perceived in Central Europe, we’ll temporarily digress from the main topic of this article and briefly talk of gardening from a socio-historical point of view.
The fact of seeing a public park as a social gathering place got to Central European countries between the 19th and the 20th century, which means later than in France, Italy and England. There’s a historical reason for that. The same way industrial revolution marked the turning point in the Northern European way of perceiving town and metropolis, what played a significant role in how Central European people see public spaces were socio-political turmoil, such as 1848 Revolution. As they experienced violent riots, Vienna and Budapest became sort of a standard as far as public parks planning is concerned, especially for the transformation of neglected areas.
There’s been a buzz about private gardening across Central European countries in the latest years. One of the main reasons for that is the increasing construction of detached and semi-detached houses and, as a consequence, the increasing number of gardens in the suburbs of the main cities, mostly in Poland, in the Balkans and in the Baltic States. Gardening habits and trend vary, depending on the house being in an area which is close to the town or in one of the most peripheral ones.
In the urban area gardening is an enjoyable hobby and the aesthetic aspect is prevalent, while in most rural areas the focus is on the functionality of the soil, which is usually grown for commercial reasons; the decorative plants trend started to be a thing only recently. People living in the most rural areas embellish their gardens with fruit trees, vegetables and nice flowers, especially in the most visible areas. More and more citizens are committed to gardening, and they are proud to show their nice and well-cared green corners.
As a demonstration of the importance of 1848 revolutionary uprisings on public spaces, we’d have to go and visit Vienna. The capital of Austria is an actual urban gem. Even if it doesn’t have the looks of a metropolis, it is an elegant city that has preserved its Middle-European charm unaltered. It is rich in both ancient and modern corners, and in some places is still possible to sense a fascinating and unique nineteen-century vibe.
The large and shady squares of Vienna are actual social gathering points, and they are a result of the great urban revolution decided by Franz Joseph after the revolutionary turmoils. The aim was to create gathering places for the people, and to give a strong message, by bringing a surge of pure splendour to the city. To achieve this, sections of wall were demolished, and squares and wide boulevards were created. Nowadays, green spaces such as parks, gardens and woods cover over one half of the surface of Vienna, and both the inhabitants and the tourists live them as diversion, relax and social gathering places.
Two emblematic examples of these enviable green areas are the Volksgarten, also known as “the people’s garden”, and the Buggarten, both built after the demolition of previously present fortifications. The Volksgarten rises up on the fortifications Napoleon had demolished in 1809. The area was on the private use of the archdukes, and it was opened to the public only later. It is a French-style garden, perfect for relaxing, and it has geometric flowerbeds, several fountains, a small pond and a rose garden featuring more than 400 varieties that directly overlooks Heldenplatz and the Hofburg buildings. Volksgarten also hosts the monument to Empress Elisabeth, featuring a statue of Princess Sissi carved in a block of marble measuring 2.5 meters in height and 8 thousand kilograms of weight.
The Burggarten is an English-style park, extending on a 38 thousand square metres surface and featuring fountains, a pond and a charming coffee-restaurant. Located on Ringstrasse, it used to be the private garden of Emperor Franz Joseph, who had it realised after the demolition of the city walls surrounding Homburg. The Emperor himself directly took part in the planning, alongside with the architect Ludwig Gabriel von Remy and the court gardener Franz Antoine. The Burggarten is an actual oasis, given the presence of numerous plants coming from all over the world and personally chosen by the Emperor. The park also hosts the Butterfly House, where hundreds of colourful and exotic lepidoptera live nowadays.
Petrin Hill in Prague is another great example of a magnificent green space in Central Europe. It used to be one of the vineyards of King Charles, and it’s now a vast public park. Its dense greenery includes hornbeams, beeches, oaks, horse chestnuts and maples, a testimony to the dense woods that once surrounded Prague. 250 species of plants have been identified to live on those hill sides. The peculiar soil of the hill has allowed for two perennials to spread.
From March to the end of May, Anemone nemorosa produces long straight trunks with big white flowers blooming at the top. Aconite Napellus is a poisonous plant (the name “aconite” comes from the Greek akòniton, poisonous plant) with deep purple flowers of the looks of a spike, blooming from June to August. The top of the hill can be reached by walking through the paths of the park, enabling you to enjoy the magnificent panoramas, or by the cable railway that was inaugurated for the Exhibition of 1891. The Petrin Panoramic Tower, a 60 meters tall replica of Eiffel Tower with 299 steps to get to the top, is located there.
by Alessandro Da Rin Betta
Alessandro Da Rin Betta is a contributor from international network Gushmag. Passionate about Food & Beverage, Sports and Gardening, he always carries around a notebook to fixate his thoughts and his observations.
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