What is the story behind this majesty

history: His majesty as a gardener

Anyone who grows up in the Boboli Gardens, a Florentine park, and receives enough space in both senses of the word from their parents, must - so the simple assumption - inevitably get a "green thumb", as the example of Emperor Franz shows. He was born on February 12, 1768 as the first-born son of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopold, and Maria Ludovica in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. He was already considered heir to the throne in childhood, as his uncle, Emperor Joseph II, remained childless.

The study of nature and gardens has played an important role in Franz's life since childhood. Supported by the history teacher Sigismund Anton Graf Hohenwart, he already spent a lot of time in his youth both in the Boboli Gardens, which stretch behind the Palazzo Pitti, and in other parks of grand ducal villas in and around Florence. This created a basis for the future emperor's lifelong interest in nature, in horticulture and agriculture.

Botanical court cabinet

This interest was expressed later in Vienna, where the heir to the throne had lived since the age of 17, in a variety of ways: On the one hand, he actively took care of garden art and gardening in his own facilities, and on the other hand, he promoted areas such as flower painting and scientific collection and documentation of plants.

In 1807 the monarch founded the botanical court cabinet, from which today's botanical department of the Natural History Museum emerged. When it was founded, he gave the court cabinet his own herbarium as a symbolic act, which included a collection of cultivated plants from the Schönbrunn Botanical Garden. He also financed the position of a "court botanist" who illustrated plants in detail on his behalf. These representations went into his private library, in which he owned a remarkable collection of botanical works.

Emperor Franz's love of plants was expressed most strongly in the design and maintenance of his numerous gardens in Vienna and today's Lower Austria. As chamber accounts show, extensive expenditures were made for parks - for example for the Augarten, the Belvedere or the so-called Reserve Garden in the Ungargasse. For the terrace garden in the Hofburg, which no longer exists, there is evidence of regular expenditure for seasonal cultivation and for the care of plants. This included, for example, the purchase of domestic seeds and flowering plants as well as the purchase of foreign, exotic plants.