For someone who has been living gladly and happily in urbanized environment for my whole life I find myself surprisingly very much interested in gardens in recent years. Truth be told, I lived in a proper house in a proper village for a relatively short time when my parents bought a house as their long-lived dream of having a home in the country, but I couldn’t have left it faster once I moved away to live on my own. Back to town, that was.
My personal life-long habitat therefore is an apartment. There have been several of them, some bigger than others, on different locations throughout town, but every one of them, including those of my childhood, chosen by my parents, featured a balcony. An apartment without a balcony has never been an option. Fortunately, socialist urbanists, for all their flaws, got that right for there seems to be a decent number of apartments with at least some kind of balcony in this country. Obviously, people in towns on general value the (limited) private outdoor space.
Putting the advantages of public parks as green oases within urbanized areas aside, a balcony can easily provide a pseudo fresh air escape from confined indoors. I like stepping out on the balcony in the morning with a cup of coffee in my hands, scanning the sky and the courtyard.
In spring, on a sunny day, I like to leave the balcony doors wide open to let the sun penetrate deeper inside. (This used to be the case in the past anyway, before the annoying allergy occurrence in early spring due to tree pollen. In the last couple of years I’m more cautious about airing my home in early spring.) I’m also very much looking forward to move my citrus plants onto the balcony once the danger of spring frost is over to secure them better conditions during warmer months than those of wintering indoors.
And here comes my little private citrus obsession of late. I was devastated (dramatizing a bit now) when my humble Meyer lemon tree deteriorated this past winter especially because I take pains to look after it. I want to retain its fantastic dark green leaves (which are all gone now), its beautiful white blooms and the seductive zagara, not to mention its fantastic deep orange-yellow fruit.
So, I went to visit this citrus garden, you know, just to comfort myself. The day I went was a typical early spring day: not too cold but fresh, windy and heavily clouded with only an occasional ray of sunshine peering through. It doesn’t need good weather to visit this particular citrus garden since in the continental climate the citruses have to be kept in greenhouses anyway.
Sage advice? If you want to lift your spirits, visit a citrus garden. There are many little sunshines awaiting you there. You don’t even need to buy something. (Although you might give in to temptation. Consider yourselves warned.)
The one I went to is near Faaker See in Carinthia, Austria. Apparently, it’s the biggest of its kind in Austria, very green, organic actually, and some very friendly people work there. Mr Ceron, the proprietor, gave me an educational 101 on how to replant my Meyer lemon. So, just at the foot of high Alpine peaks, still covered in deep snow, on the edge of a typical (very neat) Austrian village there’s this little citrus heaven. Next time, I’m taking my girlfriends.
All organic citrus garden near Faaker See in Austria
The Citrus Family Tree by National Geographic
List of citrus fruits from Wikipedia
The Land Where Lemons Grow by Helena Attlee, the book that started it all for me