Shakespeare's Garden

— A walk through the flowers and plants in plays and poems

"A lover of flowers and gardening myself, I claim Shakespeare as equally a lover of flowers and gardening…in all his writings, he exhibits his strong love for flowers, and a very fair, though not perhaps a very deep, knowledge of plants."

I’m stressed each time I read the news. The only reason I end up news sites is because I’m looking for things to read, something to escape to. Instead, I get riled up. In organizing my bookmarks and creating a list of places to visit online, I’ve been exploring the Internet Archives. The Archives hold a ton of old books.

"As a garden plant the Columbine still holds a favourite place. Hardy, handsome, and easy of cultivation, it commends itself to the most ornamental as well as to the cottage garden"

The latest book I came across is Plant Lore and Garden Craft of Shakespeare by Henry N. Ellacombe. The illustrated book walks through the flowers and plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. But it’s not just a book about plants, it’s late 19th century fan fiction.

"The Camomile shall teach thee patience
Which riseth best when trodden most upon." - The More the Merrier

"The fairest flowers o’ the season
Are our Carnations and streak’d Gillyvors,
Which some call Nature’s bastards." —Winter’s Tale

Randomly interjected in between chapters are illustrations of Shakespeare’s birthplace. It seems like the author wanted to decorate his book with Shakespeare paraphernalia, like a fan would decorate a notebook with stickers from their favorite sports team.

"Hemlock was considered to be only fit for an ingredient of witches’ broth"

The book is informative about different plant species and it’s not technically fiction, but the extended exploration of Shakespeare’s fictional worlds makes it seem like it was written by a huge fan. Who else would take such a deep dive into a particular world?

All illustrations from Plant Lore and Garden Craft of Shakespeare by Henry N. Ellacombe. Illustrations by Major E. Bengough Ricketts. 3rd edition published 1896.

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