Like all things magical, the nasturtiums draped from the window sills of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Italian Palazzo will disappear before you may be ready to say so-long. Allowing Museum guests to include one of Isabella’s favorite traditions in their Passover and Easter celebrations, this season the WONDER-full ‘flower-fall’ will spill over Fenway Court until Sunday, April, 17th.
Requiring 10 months of TLC, this rite of Spring is a masterwork of greenhouse horticulture. The annual process of growing 18 Rapunzel-like tendrils requires daily pruning of the nasturtium vines for nearly a year to develop a saturation of orange flowers on 20 feet of lush growth.
Last year, rather than start from seed, the horticulturalists propagated plants from cuttings. The new style of cultivation produced ‘wonder-ful’ blossoms, initiating the display process on view in the Museum now.
Isabella Stewart Gardner was a complex and fascinating woman. Her passions included animals, the arts, the Boston Red Sox, music, religion, and entertaining. Writing to a friend, Isabella said of her garden display ” My garden is riotous, unholy, deliriously glorious! I wish you were here” .
Although the note was written to Bernard Berenson, her magical Italian Palazzo is now open for all to enjoy. Even if you can’t catch the nasturtium before they disappear, the seasonally-rotated gardens of the Gardener will leave you in awe of the mysteries of life when ever you visit. On Thursday April 7th the Museum will be reading a list of plants within the Gardner’s collection. A performance of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Journey through the Secret of Life of Plants’ will compliment the experience of enjoying Isabella’s “riotous, unholy, deliriously glorious” gardens.
For those inspired to pay homage to Isabella, planting nasturtium seeds is an easy, kid friendly project. Although they may not reach 20 feet, seeds sown now in any planter, will shout with mid-season color of the legendary women who lived well ~ well before her time.
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