June, July, and August
To begin the process of creating the Hanging Nasturtiums display, in June, the horticulture team seeds nasturtiums into open flats in the Gardner’s South Shore nursery, where the plants will remain until late March.
In July, over 100 nasturtium plants are repotted into small, terra cotta pots and moved outdoors shortly thereafter. When they begin to flower, all plants that don’t have the traditional, deep orange of the Gardner nasturtiums are composted.
Then, in August, the remaining nasturtium plants are potted up into their final, large terra cotta pots.
September and October
The nasturtiums are pruned to select vines that show the most potential to be a part of the final installation, which features vines up to 20 feet in length.
Then, those nasturtiums are moved into the greenhouse prior to any threat of frost.
November through February
In November, horticulturists stake each plant and build trellises up the wall and across the ceiling of the greenhouse to support the growing vines.
Throughout the rest of the winter, the nasturtiums are pruned, trained, and fertilized weekly, and all open flowers are removed from the plants daily.
Just before it’s time for the display’s installation, the nasturtium vines are cut down from the greenhouse ceiling and transported from Hingham to the Museum.
The installation of the nasturtiums at the Museum requires the assistance of several gardeners to carry the trailing vines from the truck bed, to the third floor of the Palace, where they are then carefully draped over the balconies above the Courtyard.
The display remains for the entire time the nasturtiums are in bloom, and continues the tradition Isabella Stewart Gardner began in 1904 in celebration of her birthday, and to mark the return of spring.
We are so grateful for all of the support for the Hanging Nasturtiums display and horticulture programming at the Gardner. Special thanks to Bank of America and Rachel Jacoff for their generosity this year, and for the annual support provided by Vivien and Alan Hassenfeld, Elizabeth and Matthew Denison, the Sorenson Fund for Horticulture, and the Barbara E. Millen and Markley H. Boyer Endowment Fund. And many thanks to our Friends of Fenway Court Patrons who help keep the Courtyard in bloom year round.