William Shakespeare was heavilly influenced by the Elizabethan society of his time. Although you may recogize the influences of politics, family, and classism, in Shakespeare’s works, you may not recognize the more subtle influences of his surroundings. For instance, gardening, ie. plants and flowers, played a unique but important role in the Bard’s quit-witted comedies and his eerie tragedies, with many of these botany terms being referenced by name.
As a tribute to his work, fans of Shakespeare started creating gardens in the playwright’s name. Now, nearly 400 years after his death, you can find these Shakespearean gardens all of the world. By far, the most popular Shakespeare garden is located in Stratford, England, which is thought to be his birthplace. It is there, in Nash’s House & New Place, where you will find not only a garden but also the mulberry tree Shakespeare himself is said to have planted. In addition to mulberry trees, Shakespeare gardens feature plants, flowers, and other foliage popular during Elizabethan times and often include the specific plants that Shakespeare mentioned in his plays.
If you want to pay tribute to the Bard with your own Shakespearean Garden, be sure to include some of these Elizabethan favorites:
- Lavender, Mint, Savory, and Marjoram – “ Here’s flowers for you: Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram” – Winter’s Tale
- Fennel – “ There’s fennel for you, and columbines;” – Hamlet
- Pansy – “…and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.” – Hamlet
- Blackberry – “…and elegies on brambles;” – As You Like It
- Lily – “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily.” – King John
- Wild Thyme – “I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows…” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- Daisy – “When daisies pied…Do paint the meadows with delight.” – Love’s Labour’s Lost
- Strawberry – “The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,…” – Henry V
- Rose – “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Romeo & Juliet
- Camomile – “…for though the chamomile, the more it is trodden on, the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted the sooner it wears.” – King Henry IV
- Crab Apple – “And sometimes lurk I in a gossip’s bowl in very likeness of a roasted crab;” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- Rosemary – “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; Pray you, love, remember.” – Hamlet
- Honeysuckle – “So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle gently entwist;” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- Violet – “…as gentle, as zephyrs blowing below the violet, not wagging his sweet head;” – Cymbeline
- Carnation – “Of trembling winter, the fairest flowers o’ the season are our carnations, and streak’d gillyvors.” – Winter’s Tale
- Daffodil – “When daffodils begin to peer, with heigh’ the doxy, over the dale, why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year.” – The Winter’s Tale
For more details on how to plant a Shakespearean garden, check out The Bard in the Yard.
Happy planting and may thou garden be full! Ciao!