Nearly 30 scenes in Shakespeare’s plays take place in a garden, and his characters mention weeds, trees, flowers and herbs and their properties, both medicinal and just beautiful. Ever since this 1906 book of the plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays, great cities and private garden groups have created gardens that honor the fertile imagination of The Bard Of Avon. There are 33 of these Shakespeare gardens worldwide, in cities like New York, Barcelona, and of course, Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford Upon Avon.
Shakespearean Garden At Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Here is a good guide for how you can create a Shakespeare Garden of your own:
Here’s an excellent guide to the plants mentioned in the plays: https://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2601
Finally, here are two of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes about plants and flowers- a speech from Ophelia in Hamlet and the Gardeners scene from Richard II:
There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there is pansies. that’s for thoughts.
A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted.
There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue
for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it
herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with
a difference. There’s a daisy: I would give you
some violets, but they withered all when my father
died: they say he made a good end,–
For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.
Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,
She turns to favour and to prettiness.
Hamlet Act IV, Scene ii.
Ophelia by W. Waterhouse
HC Selous Illustration For Richard the Second, circa 1864. Source: https://shakespeareillustration.org/king-richard-ii-3/hcselouskrii11/#main
▪Gardener. Go, bind thou up yon dangling apricocks,
▪ Which, like unruly children, make their sire
▪ Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight: 1895
▪ Give some supportance to the bending twigs.
▪ Go thou, and like an executioner,
▪ Cut off the heads of too fast growing sprays,
▪ That look too lofty in our commonwealth:
▪ All must be even in our government. 1900
▪ You thus employ’d, I will go root away
▪ The noisome weeds, which without profit suck
▪ The soil’s fertility from wholesome flowers.
▪Servant. Why should we in the compass of a pale
▪ Keep law and form and due proportion, 1905
▪ Showing, as in a model, our firm estate,
▪ When our sea-walled garden, the whole land,
▪ Is full of weeds, her fairest flowers choked up,
▪ Her fruit-trees all upturned, her hedges ruin’d,
▪ Her knots disorder’d and her wholesome herbs 1910
▪ Swarming with caterpillars?
▪Gardener. Hold thy peace:
▪ He that hath suffer’d this disorder’d spring
▪ Hath now himself met with the fall of leaf:
▪ The weeds which his broad-spreading leaves did shelter, 1915
▪ That seem’d in eating him to hold him up,
▪ Are pluck’d up root and all by Bolingbroke,
▪ I mean the Earl of Wiltshire, Bushy, Green.
▪Servant. What, are they dead?
▪Gardener. They are; and Bolingbroke 1920
▪ Hath seized the wasteful king. O, what pity is it
▪ That he had not so trimm’d and dress’d his land
▪ As we this garden! We at time of year
▪ Do wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees,
▪ Lest, being over-proud in sap and blood, 1925
▪ With too much riches it confound itself:
▪ Had he done so to great and growing men,
▪ They might have lived to bear and he to taste
▪ Their fruits of duty: superfluous branches
▪ We lop away, that bearing boughs may live: 1930
▪ Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
▪ Which waste of idle hours hath quite thrown down.
▪Servant. What, think you then the king shall be deposed?
▪Gardener. Depress’d he is already, and deposed
▪ ‘Tis doubt he will be: letters came last night 1935
▪ To a dear friend of the good Duke of York’s,
▪ That tell black tidings.
▪Queen. O, I am press’d to death through want of speaking!
▪ [Coming forward]
▪ Thou, old Adam’s likeness, set to dress this garden, 1940
▪ How dares thy harsh rude tongue sound this unpleasing news?
▪ What Eve, what serpent, hath suggested thee
▪ To make a second fall of cursed man?
▪ Why dost thou say King Richard is deposed?
▪ Darest thou, thou little better thing than earth, 1945
▪ Divine his downfall? Say, where, when, and how,
▪ Camest thou by this ill tidings? speak, thou wretch.
▪Gardener. Pardon me, madam: little joy have I
▪ To breathe this news; yet what I say is true.
▪ King Richard, he is in the mighty hold 1950
▪ Of Bolingbroke: their fortunes both are weigh’d:
▪ In your lord’s scale is nothing but himself,
▪ And some few vanities that make him light;
▪ But in the balance of great Bolingbroke,
▪ Besides himself, are all the English peers, 1955
▪ And with that odds he weighs King Richard down.
▪ Post you to London, and you will find it so;
▪ I speak no more than every one doth know.
▪Queen. Nimble mischance, that art so light of foot,
▪ Doth not thy embassage belong to me, 1960
▪ And am I last that knows it? O, thou think’st
▪ To serve me last, that I may longest keep
▪ Thy sorrow in my breast. Come, ladies, go,
▪ To meet at London London’s king in woe.
▪ What, was I born to this, that my sad look 1965
▪ Should grace the triumph of great Bolingbroke?
▪ Gardener, for telling me these news of woe,
▪ Pray God the plants thou graft’st may never grow.
[Exeunt QUEEN and Ladies]
▪Gardener. Poor queen! so that thy state might be no worse, 1970
▪ I would my skill were subject to thy curse.
▪ Here did she fall a tear; here in this place
▪ I’ll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace:
▪ Rue, even for ruth, here shortly shall be seen,
▪ In the remembrance of a weeping queen. 1975
Richard the Second, Act III, Scene iv.