Not much activity on the blogging front of late… It’s been exceedingly busy at work and on top of all the normal things, a week ago I gave a talk about my work at an international meeting! To celebrate getting up on that stage without falling over the hidden step in front of the podium, The Enabler and I had a short break in Vienna. We very much enjoyed our visit. Vienna is extremely pretty, very clean, great food and everything seems to work the way it should. A great place, but do make sure you’ve raided the piggy bank first.
We spent way more time than we intended in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. There we learned that the penchant the British had for “collecting” antiquities from the Near and Middle East back in the days of the Empire was enthusiastically shared with the Hapsburgs. While the Austrians apparently lacked the cheek to make off with 7 ton statues, they had no reservations about building up an extensive collection of rather exquisite objects. I suspect that the Austrian government is hoping that the rest of the world will continue to fixate on the Elgin Marbles as the prime example of misappropriation of antiquities.
One British passion that the Austrians have not appeared to embrace is gardening. We had a somewhat underwhelming afternoon at Schönbrunn Palace. As the weather was rather glorious, and also we were looking for a way to kill a few hours without bleeding cash, most of our time was spent outside in the gardens. While the building is quite grand, I cannot say that the gardens were über impressive.
Everything was extremely neat, the trees were trimmed in very straight lines and there were little Austrian flag motifs running through the beds. Even though it was nearly October, the plants were well cared for and healthy. There was also a groundskeeper with a whistle driving around on a golf cart harassing people, like the man in the center of the picture above, who dared step on the well-manicured grass. It just looked a bit like someone decided that there had to be plants, so they put some plants in and then they were done with it. Perhaps I’m spoiled by all the magnificent public gardens in the UK, but, meh.
That said, there are green shoots of gardening promise pushing through in some of the most unlikely places. Along the Danube there is a concrete walkway covered in well-executed street art. Surprisingly, on the east side we spotted a little community garden for edibles. Sadly I did not take any pictures. The whole thing was looking more than a little bit shabby and weedy, much like my plot at the moment, if we’re being honest.
On the west side of the river there was something that clearly merited getting the phone out to take a picture. I don’t know if these shopping carts were recovered from the river or abandoned on the street. As this is Vienna, I suspect that no one would dream of such blatant rule breaking. Instead these carts probably were taken out of service for having a slightly wonky wheel and the supermarket was about to recycle them, properly. In any case, this is a rather ingenious planting system. The sides are lined with perspex to keep the compost in while the bottom has a generous layer of stones that is free draining. No idea how old these vines are or how often they have to be watered, but it seems to work as there are some grapes there!
This is definitely an idea I plan on stealing. I do happen to have an old shopping cart that was already there when I took on the plot. After establishing (much to the amusement of Lovely Neighbour on Plot Five and The Builder on Plot Three) that it was not a suitable wheelbarrow, I had thought to use it as a raised bed in order to cram more plants around my fruit trees. Unfortunately the cart is one of those shallower ones and not a nice deep one suitable for a “big shop”. I will probably stick to the original plan with my existing cart, as a grape vine will surely need much more depth for its roots. I shall have to wait and see if the allotment deities see fit to deliver me another one for a grape vine. Perhaps the neighborhood teenagers might help me out.