Shakespeare Garden

Hidden along a steep hillside below Belvedere Castle is the enchanting Shakespeare Garden.

Evocative of an English cottage garden, the four-acre space is densely planted with trees, shrubs, flowers, and herbs mentioned in William Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Scattered throughout the Garden are bronze plaques with quotes from Shakespeare that reference plants.

Shakespeare Garden is fittingly located near the Delacorte Theater, the venue for the Public Theater’s productions of Shakespeare in the Park. But the Garden predates the theater by several decades. A garden was first created on this site in 1912 by Dr. Edmond Bronk Southwick, NYC Parks’ entomologist, as a place for public school children to study plants and natural history, called “The Garden of the Heart.” Southwick, an avid Shakespeare fan, included four large planting beds with flowers found in Shakespeare’s literature, also intended as a teaching tool. The Garden became more focused on Shakespeare in 1916, in part because of celebrations of the tricentennial of Shakespeare’s death, and was dedicated and officially named on April 23, 1916. Visitors can also find here a [curved granite bench] named in honor of Charles Stover, who was Parks Commissioner from 1910 to 1913 and instrumental in the creation of the Garden.

Then & Now: Shakespeare Garden

One of our favorite places to explore in the summertime is Shakespeare Garden! Its bright flowers, rustic details, and fascinating history make it a special spot to escape the summer sun.

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Maintenance of such a detailed and intricate garden was a challenge from the beginning and it experienced numerous periods of decline, reaching a low point in the 1970s when it was overgrown with weeds and many of the original plants lost. In 1975 a group of community volunteers began to restore it and in 1987 the Central Park Conservancy completed a full restoration, including adding new plantings, rustic wood benches and fences, and the bronze plaques.

Intricate, natural plantings and rustic features are highlights of the garden.

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