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Shakespeare Garden

The Shakespeare Garden, located in front of the Pardee Laboratories Building at USD, features every flower, herb, and shrub mentioned in Shakespeare's works, everything from columbine to wormwood. The sculpture of William Shakespeare was created by Martin Wanserski, a USD artist. The USD Emeritus Club dedicated the Shakespeare Garden on April 23 (Shakespeare's observed birthday), 1988. 

History of the Garden
Designed by Joseph Hoffman

Shakespeare Garden founders


Winter 1986-87

April 23, 1988

The Emeritus Club Shakespeare Garden of the University of South Dakota was conceived during a 1986 conversation between two retired professors, William O. Farber and Raphael Block. When Professor Block described with enthusiasm the section of the Huntington Gardens in San Marino, California, which features the flowers, herbs, and shrubs mentioned in Shakespeare's works, Professor Farber's reaction was, "Why can't we have one?" The rest is history.

That fall, the duo, armed with much valuable information supplied by the Huntington administration, presented the proposal to a meeting of the Emeritus Club attended by President and Mrs. Joseph McFadden, who at once became enthusiastic supporters of the plan. It was agreed that the University would supply (1) all creative and supervisory services involved in the design, construction, and maintenance of the garden; and (2) all direct labor needed for its continued maintenance.

The Emeritus Club undertook to provide funds for (1) all materials and labor required for the initial construction of the garden, and (2) all material needed for its continued maintenance. A committee consisting of Marjorie Beaty, Carroll Colwell, and Wayne Gutzman, as well as Professors Farber and Block, was established to supervise the project.

At the same time, Kenneth Grover of the University of South Dakota Foundation offered to provide the fiscal and clerical supplies and services necessary for the solicitation and administration of funds. Thus, every dollar contributed is spent directly for essential services and materials.

The design of the garden was entrusted to Joseph Hoffman, the University head gardener, who entered into the task with great enthusiasm. During the winter of 1986-87, he produced three alternative designs; the one finally chosen by the committee, approved by the club, and constructed in the spring of 1987 is centrally located, is compact but spacious, and incorporates the fountain which was the gift of the University of South Dakota class of 1924. Although Mr. Hoffman made use of information supplied by the Huntington, primary credit for the design of the garden belongs to him.

Two major features of the Hoffman plan, an arbor and a sundial, were immediately subscribed as special memorials; donations to cover the construction came in rapidly from members of the club. While the garden in the summer of 1987 was already a notable feature of the campus, formal dedication was deferred until 1988. The chosen date of April 23 (Shakespeare's observed birthday) proved inauspicious, as a meeting in Pierre prevented President McFadden's participation and Dakota weather drove the ceremony indoors.

Nevertheless, the keynote address by Richard Coe, drama critic emeritus of The Washington Post, proved inspiring; the Anne Larson Concert Hall of the Shrine to Music Museum proved a suitable place; and the dedicatory remarks of Dean John Day proved eminently appropriate.

The Emeritus Club hopes that the garden has been and will continue to be an inspiration to members of the University and the Vermillion community. One who was inspired to action was Martin Wanserski, Associate Professor of Art, who offered to create and donate a three-quarter-size bronze figure of Shakespeare. The offer was accepted with delight, especially since Dean Day of the College of Fine Arts undertook to underwrite all incidental expenses of casting and installation. The sculpture was unveiled on May 3, 1990, by President Betty Turner Asher as a feature of her inaugural ceremonies; this time the weather cooperated splendidly.

With the installation in 1991 of the directory and information center and in 1992 of the illumination, the immediate needs of the garden have been met. No one in the Emeritus Club, however, feels it is now or ever will be complete.

View the Plants featured.