Gardens – Cedar Brook Park

The Shakespeare Garden

In the early 1900s, Shakespeare-themed gardens sprang up across the nation to mark the 300th anniversary of the great poet’s death. While some no longer exist, at Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield The Plainfield Garden Club continues to maintain the Shakespeare Garden that was created in 1927 and continues to overflow with flowers, plants and herbs to this day.

Initiated by Howard C. Fleming of the Plainfield Shakespeare Society in 1927, the Shakespeare Garden, was originally meant to be but a small garden in a corner of Cedar Brook Park.

However, the then Union County Park Commission had more ambitious plans and hired the Olmsted Brothers of Boston who laid out two beds, each one hundred feet long, along with seventeen flower beds.

The beds, all laid out geometrically, were edged with brick, according to the custom of the times. To give the garden literary interest, stake labels were placed in the beds with the botanical and folk names, along with quotations about the flowers drawn from Shakespeare’ works.

Since there were only seven or eight such gardens in the entire country, the Shakespeare Gardens at once attracted admiring attention. Not many years later, it was called the second finest in the United States by a horticulturalist from the New York Botanical Gardens.

Only the old varieties of plants were used in the garden, many obtained from England, except during World War II, when seeds could not be obtained.

Rock garden plants were added, herbs and a rose bed of old-fashioned roses including the Rosa Damascena, the original rose of Damascus and the climbing “Maiden’s Blush” which rambled over Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

Trees were planted, among them holly, English hawthorn, mulberry, and Taxus, clipped in topiary style.