According to Dixon...Horticulture's influence on the Bard

Stratford-upon-Avon rejoices in William Shakespeare, its most famous son. Even after 400 years he is still the world's greatest poet and playwright. He lives on with increasing stature and reputation worldwide. Horticulture still contributes in that life and our enjoyment of it.

Shakespeare regularly travelled through rural England. There he felt the seasonal rhythms of life and the value of fruit, vegetables and flowers for people. Horticultural allusions are built into his works and chimed well with his audiences.

A 400th anniversary parade drew thousands of people from around the world who laid copious floral tributes onto his grave in Holy Trinity Church. Yearlong celebrations are being organised by the Royal Shakespeare Company and many are broadcast by the BBC.

A more tangible tribute, however, is the remodelling of his New Place garden. This was Shakespeare’s family home. A new design comes from landscape consultancy Gillespies. Visitors will enter via a gatehouse guarded by two medlar trees, planted by London’s Worshipful Company of Fruiterers.

This gives onto a footprint of the original house in bronze with a central motif of colourfully planted borders. Beyond is a circle of pleached hornbeams within which is "Shakespeare’s chair" set next to a glowing pool of enlightenment and knowledge.

Visitors proceed into a Jacobean-style knot garden designed by Ernest Law, who led the revival of this form in the 1920s, that cherishes those lost in the 1914-18 war. Visitors experience a unity in the garden between modern expressions of Shakespeare’s works in interpretations such as West Side Story with the originals in medieval English.

Horticulture has deep roots in both the arts and sciences. We should rejoice in continuing contributions to the living Shakespeare. Horticulture provided content and context in his works and now biological substance for New Place’s garden.

Professor Geoffrey Dixon is managing director of GreenGene international

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Dutch vegetable open days

Dutch vegetable open days

Brassicas, squashes, salads, roots and alliums were all on show as growers, advisers, agents and buyers visited the main seed breeders' sites, Gavin McEwan reports.

A growing choice - the industry assesses alternatives to peat

A growing choice - the industry assesses alternatives to peat

Industry efforts to reduce peat continue as coir suppliers invest in continuous supply and growers take part in trials to assess alternatives, Gavin McEwan reports.

National Fruit Show 2016 - Business post-Brexit to be a key talking point

National Fruit Show 2016 - Business post-Brexit to be a key talking point

The post-Brexit political and regulatory landscape will be the subject of much attention from growers at this year's event.