Upon a bank of violets. The Shakespeare Garden
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
No doubt they rose up early to observe
The rite of May, and hearing our intent,
Came here in grace of our solemnity.
(Theseus from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act IV, Scene I)
Happy May Day everyone! In the spring, the four-acre Shakespeare Garden in Central Park becomes an absolute floral tapestry, just bursting with color. This landscape dates back to the late 1890s when Manhattan Park Commissioner George C. Clausen (1849-1917; served 1898-1901 and coincidentally one of New York’s richest brewers), asked the Park’s entomologist to create a garden adjacent to the nature study center in the Swedish Cottage. In 1913, Mayor William Jay Gaynor (1849-1913; served 1910-1913) officially dedicated the Garden to William Shakespeare. After years of suffering the same neglect that plagued most of Central Park, the Shakespeare Garden was finally restored and expanded by the Central Park Conservancy in 1987. Pathways were repaved and rustic wooden benches installed, along with bronze plaques cast with quotations from the Bard. During the summer, the nearby open-air Delacorte Theatre, with Belvedere Castle magically perched on a craggy rock as a backdrop beyond the stage, features performances of Shakespeare’s plays.