tranquil Shakespeare Garden has added color, fragrance, texture
and beauty to the Evanston campus for more than 80 years.
in a quiet central section of the Evanston campus, just north
of Howes Memorial Chapel at the east end of Garrett Place, the
eight-bed garden is hidden from view by a double wall of hawthorn
by-100-foot plot of land was established in 1915 when it became
a project of The Garden Club of Evanston members because of wartime
sympathy for our British allies and to commemorate the 300th anniversary
of Shakespeares death. It was a way to celebrate the ties
between England and America.
to create the cultivated plot came from the Drama League of America
when it was suggested that interested parties construct gardens
memorializing the Bard to mark the tercentennial of his death.
was designed by renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen, who
is credited for the Cook County Forest Preserve system and Chicagos
designed the original plan in an intricate "knot style"
to recreate the Duke of Buckinghams heraldic badge, as illustrated
in the Elizabethan "Gardeners Labyrinth." Planting
was completed in 1920.
shrubs, trees and herbs in the garden are mentioned in Shakespeares
plays and are varieties best suited to the gardens location
and Midwestern climate. Among the more than 50 plants that can
be planted are rosemary, lavender, thyme, hyssop, rue, lemon balm,
columbine, old roses, oxeye daisy, Japanese anemone, daffodil,
pansy, poppy, nasturtium and marigolds. Parsley, holly, ivy, mint
and peonies are also allowed.
Garden still contains many of the original hawthorns that were
started from seed in France and which form the formal gardens
base. (The hawthorns of Jensens plan and the fact that it
represents the type of project that flourished in 1916 conceived
by the Drama leagues are the reasons the Shakespeare Garden was
listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.)
and an Elizabethan-style stone bench were installed in 1929. The
bronze and stone fountain, designed and donated by architect Hubert
Burnham, was dedicated in 1930. Burnham donated the plaque in
memory of his mother, Margaret Sherman Burnham, an early Shakespeare
Garden chairman and wife of internationally known Chicago architect
Daniel H. Burnham. The memorial fountain features a bronze relief
of Shakespeares head fashioned by French-American sculptor
Leon Hermant and quotations from the Bards "As You
Like It," "A Midsummer Nights Dream" and
"The Winters Tale."
sundial (the original was no longer there) was added to the west
end of the garden in 1990 in memory of Jean Whitton Haskin, a
former garden club chairman.
a visit in 1990, John Brookes, a distinguished English garden
designer and writer, suggested a few changes that are now reflected
in the garden. The sundial was moved from the back to the center
of the garden to create a more dramatic focus, and antique brick
edging was added to give the center beds more definition.
Garden is no longer considered a "knot garden" because
Brooks recommended removing some of the boxwood to create an opportunity
for more mixed plantings, more emphasis on perennial plants, and
a more natural look that mirrors the traditional English garden.
club members, many of whom have been Northwestern graduates, continue
to serve as the gardens caretakers. They assess the color
and the pattern to see which plants flourish and which languish.
annuals vary from year to year, depending upon the gardens
co-chairmen, which change every two to four years. This spring
there will be new varieties of pansies, and new purple hyssop,
and more pink dianthus and gray toned plants this summer.
past 85 years, major funding for the Shakespeare Gardens
plants and materials and the garden groups other civic projects
is raised from the clubs plant sales during the Annual Evanston
Garden Fair held in Raymond Park each spring.
Garden, the site of garden
tours, numerous marriage proposals and weddings, is open to all