The secret gardener

Solmaz Khorsand about Markus Weidmann-Krieger

This place fills you with humility. When you stand on the meadow with bare feet, looking at the trees and bushes that have taken years, even decades of time, energy and care to grow, to exist at all. The Sonnenpark on Spratzerner Kirchenweg in St. Pölten reveals itself like an enchanted garden. As if a piece of wild nature had secretly reclaimed its place, despite all human ignorance, here in the middle of the residential area in the south-west of the city, between cooperative housing and single-family homes. It takes a while before you meet other people. A woman walks by, a little girl holding her hand, with a dog on a leash. A complicit nod, as if sharing a secret, the secret of having discovered this place. 

And indeed, the Sonnenpark is somewhat of a secret. Only 20 percent of all people in St. Pölten know about it, Markus Weidmann-Krieger says. Yet the 50-year-old has been doing everything he can for almost two decades to make his fellow citizens realise what an oasis hides in this city. 50,000 square metres of green space, a retreat not only for people but also for animals and plants. It is the breathing, living and growing proof that everything can exist side by side, carefully cultivated to the rhythm of nature, not styled as in conventional parks. 

Weidmann-Krieger has been looking after this place since 1999, most of the time on a voluntary basis, for the last four years he has been employed as a “cultural gardener”.