The Shakespeare Garden is located at Misericordia University, Dallas, Pennsylvania, adjacent to the new Insalaco Hall. It is approximately 10,000 square feet of garden in the Elizabethan cottage style, but an English sundial, surrounded by clipped herbs in a formal pattern, pays homage to the 17th century knot garden. It contains meandering paths and a raised bed surrounded by a sitting wall. Two bubbling fountains rise from granite millstones reminding us of Shakespeare’s rural origins.
Shakespeare’s plays and poetry contain references to 278 trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, herbs and vines. A goodly number of these grow in our climate such as pine, holly, ivy, peony, narcissus, hyacinth and various herbs.
The garden is dedicated to the memory of Sister Regina Kelly, RSM, whose love of Shakespeare, scholarship and excellent teaching influenced decades of students. Legions of her admirers and students raised the funds for the establishment of this garden.
In January 2009, Misericordia invited The Back Mountain Bloomers to adopt the garden as their community project. The active stewardship of the garden began in October 2009, when we planted hundreds of spring bulbs—narcissi, hyacinths and tulips. In November, we put the garden to bed. In spring the, the effort continues with the planting of summer blooming annuals. All the flowers and herbs will be selected from the Shakespeare canon of plants. We will also begin to espalier two crab apple trees. Espalier is a medieval method of training trees to grow horizontally against a wall. Garden care will continue throughout the growing season. Coordinated groups will work weekly in the garden to keep it from becoming “rank and weedy” and preserve the design and health of the garden for the future.
This partnership between The Back Mountain Bloomers and Misericordia provides the region with its only Shakespeare garden and a unique opportunity to combine the study of horticulture and literature in a proper setting. The Shakespeare Garden is a learning experience for both students and community and a beautiful setting for rest and restoration of spirit.