“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance,” says Ophelia in Hamlet. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” says Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. The works of William Shakespeare are blooming with references to flowers and herbs – why not channel this master’s genius into a lovely Shakespeare garden?
A Shakespeare garden is exactly that – a garden that reflects the flowers, plants and herbs mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. Often Shakespeare gardens are in public places, such as New York City’s Central Park, or the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Many of these parks include various varieties of plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s works and little markers featuring the quotations from which they were pulled.
Sometimes parks will include a bust of Shakespeare, benches, pathways and hedges. Here are some tips for creating a Shakespeare garden in your own yard.
First, consider which are your favorite Shakespearean plays? Do you have a favorite sonnet or passage that you want to be sure to include? Some popular quotes include this full passage from Hamlet from Ophelia:
“Ophelia: There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.
Laertes: A document in madness! Thoughts and remembrance fitted.
Ophelia: There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you,
and here’s some for me. We may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays.
O, you must wear your rue with a difference! There’s a daisy. I
would give you some violets, but they wither’d all when my father
died. They say he made a good end.”
This is a nice passage from A Winter’s Tale:
“Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.”
Another whimsical quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.”
Based on those passages alone, you could choose to include rosemary, pansies, fennel, columbines, rue, daisies, violets, lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram, marigold, thyme, woodbine, musk-roses, and eglantine in your garden.
Next, research which Shakespearean plants grow best in your region. Consider your soil and its pH balance as well as the amounts of sun and shade you get in the area you wish to turn into your Shakespeare garden. Then you can begin your gardening design.
As far as designing your garden, you have many options.
Formal design – Like a traditional English garden, you could design your garden with hedges, walkways, and an intricate design, with the Shakespearean plants and quotes woven throughout. Many gardeners choose boxwood or yew for the border, or even use trees. Accents can be holly or roses (which, by any other name, would smell as sweet).
Cottage/herb garden style – Less formal design and more colorful and whimsical, this can be a fun addition to any home. Consider adding rocks to your garden, a small Shakespearean bust, or a small waterfall or pond, with low-growing flowers interspersed throughout.
An avid gardener himself, Shakespeare would be sure to appreciate your efforts to further immortalize and commemorate his works. A Shakespeare garden is a fun way to combine your interest in gardening, herbs and poetry all in one beautiful, peaceful location.
Photo Credit: Garden State Flowers