The construction activities in the late Baroque period resulted in the creation of an enclosed space while the previous Abbey complex had been open on several sides ‒ to the north, east and south. Including that in the early Baroque ‘old building’, this resulted in the development of a total of six courtyards. Until the fire of 1865, Admont Abbey was the largest monastery and also the most extensive structure in the whole of Styria. The fire primarily destroyed the older parts of the complex. Following the removal of the rubble and ruins, there essentially remained just one single large internal courtyard. The design of the Abbey gardens has been repeatedly modified over the years. Originally thickly wooded, the garden site was first divided into an inner and outer section (by means of palings) in 1890.
After the Second World War, the inner section was further divided into an arboretum in the south (now the home of some magnificent copper beeches) and a rose garden in the north that contains the Neptune fountain dating to 1665. The fountain had been moved here from the former Prelate courtyard after the fire. When the statue created by Alfred Schlosser was installed here in 1956, the area outside the fence to the south of the church was redesigned to become the ‘Hemma Park’. In 2000, these three sections underwent a further redesign that left the triple division concept intact.
The gardens next to the Abbey building are surrounded by a high wall. They were used to grow fruit and vegetables and as flower gardens until late in the 20th century. Special features are the two chapels (dedicated to St. Benedict and St. Blasius) that date to c. 1735. Karl Nutzinger, the Abbey’s master gardener, decided to extend the dahlia and fuchsia beds to the east and south in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1973, work on the new school building was commenced on the north side; its structure has been extended on several occasions since. Part of the garden to the east was subsequently assigned to the school for use as playing fields. The Baroque garden pavilion that dates to the period of tenure of Abbot Raimund von Rehling (1659 – 1675) was restored in 1980 and the garden area surrounding it was reconstructed to conform to the layout that appears in a surviving image of 1674. The new large car park was constructed to the south in 1996, between the glasshouses of the plant nursery and the pond that has been here for more than 300 years.
In the inner and the more extensive garden sections of the Abbey, visitors will find that although historical elements have been preserved, it has been ensured that these interact meaningfully with contemporary features. This dialogue between ‘old’ and ‘new’ is particularly apparent in the ‘courtyard garden’ (convent garden) opposite the glasshouses of the plant nursery, the herb garden (which is an accurate recreation of an historical example) and the ‘invisible garden’ created in 2006/7 with both blind and sighted visitors in mind that stretches along the recreational area around the pond. There are further creative contrasts to be explored; between the restored Baroque sculptures by Josef Stammel in the two garden chapels, the four (restored) figures of the antique goddesses Ceres, Minerva, Diana and Flora by Markus Schokotnig dating to 1726 – 1719 that can be found near the Baroque steps to the Stiftskeller courtyard and the contemporary sculptures, most recently the large loaned sculptural work by Bruno Gironcoli (1936 – 2010).