Way Back When: Flowers for William
(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.”