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NYC – Central Park: Shakespeare Garden
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Image by wallyg
The Shakespeare Garden, located between the Delacorte Theater, Belvedere Castle, and the Swedish Cottage, is an informal four-acre garden nestled in a rocky hillside. The Garden was dedicated to Shakespeare in 1916, the 300th anniversary of his death. Following a Victorian tradition, only flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays and poetry were planted in the garden.

After many years of neglect, the Garden was completely reconstructed in 1987; only the trees and a few existing shrubs were kept from the original plan. Legend has it that the tree that now shades the lower part of the garden is a graft of a white mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare himself at New Place, Stratford-on-Avon, in the year 1602. The cutting was sent to him by King James I in his attempt to introduce silk culture into England. The lovely rustic wood seating deck under the canopy of the mulberry tree is a perfect place to look closely at the garden details.

Planted on the steep slope of Vista Rock, the Garden’s path twists and turns to its summit. Rustic benches punctuate the path and climbing roses intertwine the rustic wood fence that surrounds the entire Garden. Every season offers its different pleasures, but spring is the most glorious. In March the crocuses, hellebores, columbines, and Virginia bluebells are in full bloom. April and May offer daffodils, violets, grape hyacinths, and tulips with names such as Hearts Delight and Red Riding Hood. The iris and the rose appear in late spring.

Summer greenery is more profuse, with herbs scenting the air and ferns, mallows, poppies, and black-eyed Susans in abundance. Asters, ornamental grasses, and broom sedges provide autumn color. Holly and Eastern hemlocks dominate in winter.

Visitors may see branches woven together to protect some of the more fragile plants. The garden has taken inspiration for these tiny fences from medieval times. Installed throughout the garden are bronze plaques bearing the Shakespearean quotation that inspired the planting.

Central Park was designated a scenic landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1974.

National Historic Register #66000538

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