Founded by Emperor Franz Josef I in 1862, the Stadtpark on Vienna's showpiece Ringstrasse boulevard is the oldest public park in the Austrian capital. The same year saw the birth of the organization which would assume responsibility for planning and maintaining the city's parks - a role it continues to play today. The Vienna municipal gardens department initially operated out of city hall before finally moving to its permanent home in a building next door to the Stadtpark in 1906. Today it has a workforce of 1,700 and is in charge of the upkeep of 880 parks and gardens throughout the city.
In 1911/12 the gardens department set up an orangery in the 22nd district on the other side of the Danube. The move was unusual because until then orangeries - where delicate plants such as citrus trees would be kept in tubs over winter - had been the exclusive preserve of the nobility and super rich. The Kagran Orangery was the first - and the last - municipal building of its kind. Today this piece of Austrian art nouveau architecture is home to the Kagran School Gardens. A special show will open on April 5, 2012 in honor of the department's 150th jubilee, including a miniature recreation of the Stadtpark ca. 1870.
The celebrations will get underway on January 13, 2012 with a Garden City Vienna-themed Flower Ball. Ballgoers can look forward to some stunning floral displays at the event. A two-day park festival will follow in summer. On June 16 and 17, 2012 the Stadtpark will host celebrations for all the family complete with tree climbing, picnics, music and lots of information on the history of the capital's parks and gardens.
But not all of Vienna's public green spaces fall under the remit of the department: as former imperial parks and gardens, the Augarten, Belvederegarten and Schlosspark Schönbrunn were all transferred to the Republic of Austria and redesignated Federal Gardens following the end of the monarchy in 1918.
- 90th Flower Ball, Jan 13, 2012, City Hall, 1010 Vienna, www.blumenball.at
- Special show at the Kagran School Gardens, opens Apr 5, 2012, Siebeckstrasse 14, 1220 Vienna
- Celebrations marking 150 Years Vienna Municipal Gardens Department, Jun 16- 17, 2012, Stadtpark, 1010 Vienna