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Central Park’s Shakespeare Garden – A Celebration of Spring – Literally

One of the many hidden gems of Central Park, the Shakespeare Garden is a lovely spot to “stop and smell the roses”.

Shakespeare Garden in Central Park
John B. Moore
Shakespeare Garden in Central Park.

Nestled between Belvedere Castle and The Swedish Cottage the garden first came into existence in 1913. Known as the Garden of the Heart it was patterned after Victorian era rock gardens. Then, in 1916, to celebrate the tercentennial of Shakespeare’s death, it was rechristened in honor of the Bard and only plants mentioned in his plays were planted there. These include columbine, primrose, wormwood, quince, lark’s heel, rue, eglantine, flax and cowslip, many of which sound as if they would be right at home boiling and bubbling in a cauldron.

Weeds are shallow-rooted, Suffer them now, and they’ll o’ergrow the garden, And choke the herbs for want of husbandry.
William Shakespeare: King Henry the Sixth, Part II (Queen Margaret at III, i)

This quote could have easily applied to Central Park’s Shakespeare Garden by the mid-1970’s. After years of neglect due to budget constraints and general disinterest the Garden had become run down and overgrown. Then in 1975 a group of volunteers stepped in and started to bring the garden back to its former glory. In 1986 the rescue of the garden was complete as a full restoration was undertaken funded by Samuel and May Rudin. The garden was replanted and expanded upward towards Belvedere Castle. The Shakespeare Garden is once again a popular attraction in the park and the perfect place to ruminate after a performance in the nearby Delacorte Theater.

Location: West Side between 79th and 80th Streets

Early Signs of Spring

Snowdrops

 

In search of…  After a surprisingly mild winter I thought it might not be too soon to see if spring was somewhere in the not too distant future.  I needed to assure myself of March’s eventual lanolin enriched exit.

After much roaming about the sides of the bridle path around the reservoir, where a crocus or two can usually be found peaking out by this time of year, I had come away empty.  I then remembered where The first snowdrops are always sure to appear and headed up to the Conservatory Garden.  Sure enough, my search was rewarded by the delicately hardy little blossoms.

Take a minute to check out the Blossom Schedule on CentralPark.org and find out when your favorite flowers will be appearing in the park.

Central Park's Most Romantic Places – Conservatory Garden

Conservatory Garden in Central Park

Conservatory Garden in Central Park

Number 5. on our countdown of  Central Park’s most romantic places – Conservatory Garden.  A tranquil oasis at the north end of the park, the Conservatory Garden offers dozens of fragrantly secluded corners and lush, leafy bowers to host an intimate tryst. The garden is divided into three sections: the English, Italian, and French. Each offers its own unique charm to the fragrant art of floricultural seduction. The French, or North Garden, is arranged concentrically around the Untermayer Fountain, whose pool is graced by Three Dancing Maidens, a beautiful statue executed in bronze by Walter Schott. The Italian, or Central Garden, features a beautiful lawn leading up to a lovely fountain. Above the fountain, there is a gorgeous wrought iron arbor that is grown over with Chinese Wisteria; it’s a lovely place for an out of the way stroll. The southernmost English Garden is probably the most popular of the three. Featuring beds of seasonally blooming flowers, it is always in season and at its center is a peaceful little pool that features the statue of a boy and girl. It is inspired by “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and was sculpted by Bessie Potter Vonnoh. The pool is covered with lily pads by mid-summer and the fragrant magnolia tree that stands nearby offers ample shade for a moment’s respite, and, perhaps, a few whispered phrases tickling your partner’s ear.

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