A Shakespeare garden is a themed garden that cultivates plants mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare. In English-speaking countries, particularly the United States, these are often public gardens associated with parks, universities, and Shakespeare festivals. Shakespeare gardens are sites of cultural, educational, and romantic interest and can be locations for outdoor weddings.
Signs near the plants usually provide relevant quotations. A Shakespeare garden usually includes several dozen species, either in herbaceous profusion or in a geometric layout with boxwood dividers. Typical amenities are walkways and benches and a weather-resistant bust of Shakespeare. Shakespeare gardens may accompany reproductions of Elizabethan architecture. Some Shakespeare gardens also grow species typical of the Elizabethan period but not mentioned in Shakespeare's plays or poetry.
In January or February 1631 Sir Thomas Temple, 1st Baronet, of Stowe, was eager to send his man for cuttings from the grapevines at New Place, Stratford, the home of Shakespeare's retirement. Temple's surviving letter, however, makes no note of a Shakespeare connection: he knew the goodness of the vines from his sister-in-law, whose house was nearby. The revival of interest in the flowers mentioned in Shakespeare's plays arose with the revival of flower gardening in the United Kingdom. An early document is Paul Jerrard, Flowers from Stratford-on-Avon (London 1852), in which Jerrard attempted to identify Shakespeare's floral references, in a purely literary and botanical exercise, such as those by J. Harvey Bloom (Shakespeare's Garden London:Methuen, 1903) or F.G. Savage, (The Flora and Folk Lore of Shakespeare Cheltenham:E.J. Burrow, 1923). This parallel industry continues today.
A small arboretum of some forty trees mentioned by Shakespeare was planted in 1988 to complement the garden of Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Shottery, a mile from Stratford-on-Avon. "Visitors can sit on the specially designed bench, gaze at the cottage, press a button and listen to one of four Shakespearean sonnets read by famous actors," the official website informs the prospective visitor. A live willow cabin made of growing willows, inspired by lines in Twelfth Night, is another feature, and a maze of yew.
The major Shakespeare garden is that imaginatively reconstructed by Ernest Law at New Place, Stratford-on-Avon, in the 1920s. He used a woodcut from Thomas Hill, The Gardiners Labyrinth (London 1586), noting in his press coverage when the garden was in planning stage, that it was "a book Shakespeare must certainly have consulted when laying out his own Knott Garden" The same engraving was used in laying out the Queen's Garden behind Kew Palace in 1969. Ernest Law's, Shakespeare's Garden, Stratford-upon-Avon (1922), with photographic illustrations showing quartered plats in patterns outlined by green and grey clipped edgings, each centred by roses grown as standards, must have supplied impetus to many flower-filled revivalist Shakespeare's gardens of the 20s and 30s. For Americans, Esther Singleton produced The Shakespeare Garden (New York, 1931). Singleton's and Law's plantings, as with most Shakespeare gardens, owed a great deal to the bountiful aesthetic of the partly revived but largely invented "English cottage garden" tradition dating from the 1870s. Few attempts were made in revived garden plans to keep strictly to historical plants, until the National Trust led the way in the 1970s with a knot garden at Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire, and the restored parterre at Hampton Court Palace (1977).
The conventions of Shakespeare Gardens were familiar enough in the 1920s that E.F. Benson sets the opening of Mapp and Lucia (1931) in the not-quite-recently widowed Lucia's "Perdita's Garden" at Riseholme, in words that epitomise Benson's dry touch:
The best known reference in Shakespeare of plants used for symbolic purposes, aside from passing mention, as in Romeo and Juliet, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." is Ophelia's speech from Hamlet:
Shakespeare also uses plants for historic symbolism, such as the plucking of red and white roses in Henry VI, Part I to foreshadow the dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the Roses that would end the king's reign. All the plants Shakespeare names in his plays are mentioned in classical medical texts or medieval herbal manuals.
An early Shakespeare garden was added in the anniversary year 1916 to Central Park, New York City. In honour of the Bard and the reading of literature, this area is one of eight designated Quiet Zones.
It included a graft from a mulberry tree said to have been grafted from one planted by Shakespeare in 1602; that tree was cut down by Rev. Francis Gastrell, owner of New Place, however The tree blew down in a summer storm in 2006 and was removed. This garden is located near the Delacorte Theater that houses the New York Shakespeare Festival. According to information available on the Central Park web pages, the Shakespeare Garden there does still contain some of the flowers and plants mentioned in his plays.
The rich weave of associations engendered by Shakespeare Gardens is exemplified in the Shakespeare Garden of Cleveland, Ohio, where herb-bordered paths, converge on a bust of Shakespeare. The requisite mulberry tree was from a cutting sent by the critic Sir Sidney Lee, a slip said to be from a slip of the mulberry at New Place. Elms were planted by E. H. Sothen and Julia Marlowe, oaks by William Butler Yeats, and a circular bed of roses sent by the mayor of Verona, from the traditional tomb of Juliet, planted by Phyllis Neilson Terry, niece of Ellen Terry. Birnam Wood was represented by sycamore maples from Scotland. The sundial was Byzantine, presented by the Shakespearean actor, Robert Mantell. Jars planted with ivy and flowers were sent by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Rabindranath Tagore— as the "Shakespeare of India"— and Sarah Bernhardt.
The Shakespeare Garden inaugural exercises took place on April 14th, 1916, the tercentenary year... E. H. Sothen and Julia Marlowe were guests of honor. After speeches of welcome by city officials and Mayor Harry L. Davis, the orchestra played selections from Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream," and the Normal School Glee Club sang choral setting of "Hark, Hark, the Lark" and "Who Is Sylvia?" A group of high school pupils in Elizabethan costume escorted the guests to the garden entrance and stood guard during the planting of the dedicatory elms.... Miss Marlowe climaxed the proceedings by her readings of Perdita's flower scene from A Winter's Tale, the 54th Sonnet of Shakespeare, and verses from the Star Spangled Banner. Her leading of all present in the singing of the National Anthem brought the impressive event to a close."
In later years the Cleveland Shakespeare Garden continued to be enriched at every Shakespearean occasion. Willows flanking the fountain were planted by William Faversham and Daniel Frohman. Vachel Lindsay planted a poplar and recited his own Shakespeare tribute. Novelist Hugh Walpole also planted a tree. Aline Kilmer, widow of the soldier poet, Joyce Kilmer, made a visit in 1919, and the actor, Otis Skinner and the humorist, Stephen Leacock. David Belasco came to plant two junipers.
|Bethel Public Library, Bethel, Connecticut||Public park or botanical garden|||
|Brookfield Shakespeare's Garden, Brookfield, Connecticut||Public park or botanical garden|||
|Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Brooklyn, New York||Public park or botanical garden|||
|Misericordia University||University or college campus|||
|Evanston, Illinois||Public park or botanical garden|||
|Cleveland, Ohio||Public park or botanical garden|||
|Johannesburg Botanical Garden, South Africa||Public park or botanical garden|||
|Central Park, New York City||Public park, Shakespeare festival|||
|International Rose Test Garden, Portland, Oregon||Public park or botanical garden||International Rose Test Garden|
|Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California||Public park or botanical garden|||
|The Huntington, San Marino, California||Public park or botanical garden|||
|Vienna, Austria||Public park or botanical garden|||
|Herzogspark, Regensburg, Germany||Public park or botanical garden|
|Wessington Springs, South Dakota||Public park or botanical garden||Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.|
|Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, IL||University or College Campus|||
|Illinois State University||University or college campus|||
|Kilgore College||University or college campus|||
|Naugatuck Valley Community College, Waterbury||University or college campus|||
|Northwestern University||University or college campus|||
|St. Norbert College||University or college campus|||
|University College of the Fraser Valley||University or college campus|||
|University of Massachusetts||University or college campus|||
|The University of the South||University or college campus|||
|University of South Dakota||University campus|||
|Vassar College||University or college campus|||
|Blount Cultural Park of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival||Shakespeare festival|||
|Colorado Shakespeare Festival||Shakespeare festival|||
|Illinois Shakespeare Festival||Shakespeare festival|||
|Elizabethan Garden, Folger Shakespeare Library||Public park or botanical garden|||
|The Elizabethan Herb Garden, Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, PA||Public park or botanical garden|||
|The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||University campus|||
|Shakespeare Garden in Cedar Brook Park, Plainfield, New Jersey, USA||Public park or botanical garden. Operated by the Union County Park system, it was established in 1927. The Garden appears on the National Register of Historic Places.|||
|Shakespeare Garden in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada||Public park or botanical garden|||
Media related to Shakespeare gardens at Wikimedia Commons