Sometimes just what you’ve been looking for may well be in your own backyard. For me, that would be Boston (where we once lived for four years). So as I headed off to Ireland’s finest gardens I was reminded by a friend of the exquisite courtyard garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Why have I let that slip my mind?
This Boston jewel (built in 1898) is designed after a fifteenth century Venetian palazzo with three floors of galleries surrounding a courtyard garden and covered by a glass roof. Reflecting the museums collections of European, Asian, and American paintings, sculptures and decorative arts, the courtyard incorporates numerous architectural fragments spanning several centuries of art.
Given attentive care throughout each season, this world-class museum’s courtyard is worthy of a visit at any time of the year. Anchored by lush green “bones” (ferns, shrubs and palms), the courtyard can be hosting orchids in the winter, hanging nasturtiums in the spring, and Japanese-style chrysanthemums in the fall.
This effort reflects not only the namesake’s passion for gardens but the dedication and skill of the museum’s horticultural staff. The premium that is placed on maintaining a year-round show (most of the plants are grown in the museum’s off-site greenhouses) also speaks volumes about the singularity of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum.
Wishing a lifetime of happiness to my friend and colleague, Caitlin Hill (Citrus & Cedar Consulting), whose wedding theme was ferns — and who, of course, had made a pilgrimage to this dreamy courtyard garden and reminded me of what I was missing.