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January 2012 Newsletter Image - Landscape 2    

Gardner Courtyard to Open 2012 with Midwinter Tropics Display

Escape the gray days of winter in the Gardner Courtyard, where tropical flowers and ferns soothe the spirit and fire the imagination.

In January, when the days are particularly short and the weather dispiritingly dreary, the Gardner Museum courtyard becomes a celebration of tropical and subtropical plants. When the Museum reopens to the public on Thursday, January 19, the garden will be in full tropical array. Shades of green, varied heights, and diverse plant textures knit together with the patterns of leaves and blooms to form an exuberant, evocative display. Stately tree ferns, large fishtail palms, fan and areca palms, and our large old jade plants are grouped with low-growing ferns. The dark leaves of Alocasia amazonica, multi-colored crotons, and lime and cream Dracaena fragrans set off masses of orchids, Begonias, and amaryllis. Even the Latin names of the plants conjure images of humidity and fecundity!

Each of the jade trees, Crassula argentea, in the courtyard has been raised in our greenhouse for twenty to thirty years. Their trunks are five to six inches in diameter and during January they bloom with small, starry, white flowers. The Latin word crassula means thick and fleshy, describing the jade’s leaves.

Tree ferns, Cyathea australis, are ancient plants dating back to the Triassic period, over 200 million years ago. They arrived in 19th-century Victorian England as ballast in ships traveling from Australia. The ferns’ brown, hairy, dead-looking trunks came to life when thrown on a rubbish tip in Cornwall; the ensuing publicity made them extremely popular. Our collection thrives especially well in the courtyard, giving off new growth throughout the year.

Our January orchids include 'Red Streak' orchid, a large terrestrial orchid that originated in Southeast Asia.

The courtyard, like any of the interior galleries, is a delight for the senses. The soothing sound of water in fountains, the invigorating range of floral colors, and the transportive fragrance of the flowers combine to create a paradisical oasis despite the gloom of the long Boston winter.

For information on the Landscape Department, including a full year-long schedule of Courtyard Displays, visit us online.

January 2012