Bard fans will recognize flowers from William Shakespeare’s works; several are accompanied by bronze plaques quoting the relevant text.
Shakespeare Garden is in fitting proximity to the Delacorte Theater, home to the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. But the Garden came first by several decades. At the request of Parks Commissioner Charles Stover, it was created in 1913 by NYC Parks entomologist (and devout Shakespeare fan) Dr. Edmond Bronk Southwick, who had an office in the adjacent Swedish Cottage. On April 23, 1916—the tercentennial of William Shakespeare’s death—Shakespeare Garden was officially named and dedicated in the Bard’s memory.
For years, the Garden was maintained by Dr. Southwick and the Shakespeare Society. The Society eventually disbanded, and in the decades that followed the Garden—like much of the Park—became neglected and overgrown. It was first cleaned up by community volunteers in 1975. In 1987, the newly established Conservancy began a restoration and expansion including new plantings, repaved paths, and defining elements like the wooden benches and bronze plaques bearing Shakespeare’s immortal words. Today, Shakespeare Garden retains, and perhaps even exceeds, its original splendor, thanks to the Conservancy’s year-round efforts.