Gardens for Shakespeare
There are over 180 plants referenced in Shakespeare’s work and many believe the Bard was not only an avid gardener, but had an advanced knowledge of horticulture. Gardens paying homage to Shakespeare became a trend in landscape architecture (particularly in Europe), and many ‘Shakespeare gardens’ were built around 1916, on the three-hundred year anniversary of his death.
Stanley Park Shakespeare Garden
In 1916, Mrs. Jonathan Rogers planted an oak tree near the site of the Rose Garden in Stanley Park, on behalf of the Vancouver Shakespeare Society, to honour the tercentenary of Shakespeare’s death. Other trees were planted in 1921 by the actress Eva Moore and Sir John Martin Harvey. In 1932, the Kilbe Shakespeare Circle and the Vancouver Shakespeare Society proposed constructing a proper Shakespeare Garden. Concept plans were drawn up by E.C. Thrupp and by 1935, the architect J. F. Watson had sculpted a Shakespeare monument with a quote from Ben Johnson’s poem ‘Memorial to Shakespeare,” “He was not of an age, but for all time.”
Golden Jubilee Opening
The Shakespeare garden was officially opened on August 28, 1936, for Vancouver’s Golden Jubilee celebration. Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir opened the garden by saying, “I like to think of Shakespeare as someone who lived and worked with flowers. He made his gardens beautiful and you have followed his pattern in true spirit. Nothing has amazed me more than the beauty and luxuriousness of the gardens. Shakespeare, I am sure would have loved to live here. I have great pleasure in opening and dedicating these gardens.” The Shakespearean Society of Vancouver and the Sheakespearean Club planted the trees mentioned in Shakespeare’s works including red oak, fir, beech, catalpa, fern leaf beech, tree of heaven, flowering ash, pacific dogwood, and laval hawthorn. Trees designated from the works of Shakespeare have been affixed with plaques that display their appropriate quotes.
A West Coast Flavour
The Shakespeare Garden in Stanley Park differs from the Elizabethan style typical of other Shakespeare gardens around the world. The original concept plan was never realized; instead the garden has a unique west coast style, with towering trees that create a diverse canopy for the quiet grove.
- M. Hales. Shakespeare in the Garden. New York, 2006
- Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. “The Shakespeare Garden in Stanley Park: History of the Garden.”
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