Plainfield Garden Club








Garden History & Directions

The Shakespeare Garden, initiated by Mr. Howard C. Fleming '15 of the Plainfield Shakespeare Society [See Below for more information], in 1927, and planted by [the Plainfield Garden Club], was originally meant to be but a small garden in a corner of Cedar Brook Park.

However, the Park Commission was more ambitious and hired the Olmsted Brothers of Boston, landscape architects [successors to the firm which designed Central Park, and Brooklyn's Prospect Park – SEE BELOW], who laid out two beds, each one hundred feet long, plus seventeen flower beds. When our members saw these yawning stretches of bare earth, they exclaimed, "How will we ever fill them?"

Fill them they did, under the expert guidance of Mrs. Samuel Thomson(Anna Washburn Burnham) Carter, Jr. '21, who remained chairman for at least eighteen years. Only about forty-four plants and shrubs are mentioned in the Bard's writings, so other material from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were used.

The beds, all laid out geometrically, were edged with brick, according to the custom of the times. To give the garden literary interest, stake labels were placed in the beds with the botanical and folk names, and quotations about the flowers.

Since there were only seven or eight such gardens in the entire country, ours at once attracted admiring attention. Indeed, not many years later, it was called the second finest in the United States by a horticulturalist from the New York Botanical Gardens.

Only the old varieties of plants were used in the garden, many obtained from England. During wartime, when seeds could not be obtained, Mrs. Carter and her committee managed to keep the garden gay and fragrant with flowers which, she wrote hopefully, "cheered the war weary."

Rock garden plants were added, herbs and a rose bed of old-fashioned roses including the Rosa Damascena, the original rose of Damascus and the climbing "Maiden's Blush" which rambled over Anne Hathaway's cottage.

Trees were planted, among them Holly, English Hawthorn, Mulberry, and Taxus (Yew), clipped in topiary style.

Sundials were the latest rage in England during Shakespeare's time, so our garden was given one, encircled with English ivy.

A rustic arbor was built, leading into the garden. The arbor is shaded by a honeysuckle vine called woodbine, and bordered by wild-thyme and Eglantine with its sweet fruity fragrance.

Selected from "The Plainfield Garden Club, 1915 - 1965," by Victoria Furman with the kind assistance of the Special Collections Librarian, Plainfield Public Library.

The Shakespeare Garden and Cedar Brook Park were placed in 2007 on the National Register of Historic Places.

To research the garden visit the Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline, Massachusetts. Access their database by clicking:

www.olmsted.org

The link above also directs you to the documentation of the Shakespeare Garden at The Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

The Shakespeare Garden "job number" is 07174. In fact, the entire Cedar Brook Park project is "job number 07174." Records are dated 1923 - 1943.

Also of interest is job number 07171 – Echo Lake Park in Westfield, NJ

The planning and execution of The Shakespeare Garden also involved the Shakespeare Club of Plainfield (or Shakespeare Society), an organization founded in 1887 and disolved in 1998. The Shakespeare Garden was the club's idea and proposed to the Plainfield Garden Club according to correspondence and club records. To learn more, visit the Plainfield Library archives: Shakespeare Club of Plainfield

DIRECTIONS

Cedar Brook Park
Park Avenue and Randolph Road
Plainfield, New Jersey 07080


TO NEW JERSEY


From Manhattan and the Bronx:
Lincoln Tunnel or Garden State Parkway (GSP) to NJ Turnpike to I-78 or Route 22, then follow as below

From Westchester, Connecticut and New England:
Tappan Zee Bridge to GSP to I-78 West or Route 22 West, then follow as below

From Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island:
Verrazano Narrows Bridge to Goethals Bridge to NJ Turnpike to I-78 West or Route 22 West, then follow as below

From Philadelphia, Delaware, Maryland:
I-95 to NJ Turnpike North, then as below

From Northeastern Pennsylvania, Northwestern NJ:
Local routes to I-78 East, then follow as below

FROM WITHIN NEW JERSEY

From the South/NJ Turnpike:
1. Take NJ Turnpike North to GSP North
2. North on Parkway one exit to 131A
3. Follow directions as from GSP below

From the South/Route 1:
1. Take Route 1 North to GSP North
2. North on Parkway one exit to 131A
3. Follow directions as from GSP below

From the South/GSP
1. Take Exit 131A (becomes Wood Avenue)
2. Left at 4th traffic light onto Oak Tree Road
3. West on Oak Tree approximately 3 miles (new A&P Super Center on right)
4. Right on Park Avenue 3 traffic lights to Park Drive (Left side of intersection)
5. Left on Park Drive to second right (past parking lot by ball fields)
6. Right onto unnamed drive (picnic tables will be on your right)
7. Continue as drive wends, bear left at basketball courts
8. Continue to concession stand/restrooms and find parking


From I-78 East or West:
1. Take Exit 41 "The Plainfields"
2. Coming from East, turn LEFT off ramp; coming from West, turn RIGHT off ramp
3. Continue South to bottom of long hill
4. Right at STOP, go 3/4 around circle
5. Right out of circle onto 531 South
6. Left onto ramp over Route 22
7. Left onto Somerset (becomes Park Ave in Plainfield)
8. Continue to 12th traffic light
9. Right onto Park Drive to second right (past parking lot by ball fields)
10. Right onto unnamed drive (picnic tables will be on right)
11. Continue as drive wends, bear left at basketball courts
12. Continue to concession stand/restrooms and find parking


From Route 22 East or West:
1. Take exit marked "The Plainfields"
2. If coming from West on Somerset Street: follow directions at step 4 below
3. If coming from East, go under overpass, turn right and take overpass across Route 22 to Somerset Street, follow directions at step 4 below
4. Continue to 12th traffic light
5. Right onto Park Drive to second right (pass parking lot by ball fields)
6. Right onto unnamed drive (picnic tables on right)
7. Continue as drive wends, bear left at basketball courts
8. Continue to concession stand/restrooms and find parking















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