Way Back When: Flowers for William

Way Back When: Flowers for William title=
Way Back When: Flowers for William
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(Image: New York Public Library)

By Betsy J. Green

100 years ago, April at the Santa Barbara Central Library meant that it was time to gather flowers for the Shakespeare Celebration to honor the Bard on the anniversary of his birth – April 23, 1564. Not just any flowers would do, mind you. These had to be flowers that were mentioned in his plays. Many of these flowers had theatrical-sounding names themselves – Cowslip, Lady-Smocks, Oxlip, Pansy, and Wormwood – to name just a few.

The library published a list of desired blooms in the hopes that local gardeners could furnish the particular flowers on the list. The paper added, “Mrs. Linn, city and county librarian, says that few places can come as near as Santa Barbara to offering a complete collection of Shakespeare flowers.”


Betsy's Way Back When book -- 1918 -- is now available in local bookstores and at Amazon.com. This is the fifth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at betsyjgreen.com

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Lucky 777 Apr 20, 2019 10:45 AM
Way Back When: Flowers for William

www.huntington.org/shakespeare-garden At the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA Located between the Huntington Art Gallery and the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery and connecting to the Rose Garden, the Shakespeare Garden features a broad variety of plants; some cultivated in England during Shakespeare's time, some mentioned in his plays and sonnets, plus many whose ancestors trace back to plants of his Renaissance writings.

bjgreen Apr 20, 2019 12:21 PM
Way Back When: Flowers for William

Thanks for that info, LUCKY 777. I'll have to check that out the next time I'm at the Huntington Library. The gardens are also a great place for birding.

Flicka Apr 20, 2019 10:41 AM
Way Back When: Flowers for William

Great idea, maybe the Library should do this again. I know pansies, have heard of Cowslip but would like to see pictures of them all.

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