Shakespeare garden planned for Karpeles Manuscript Library on Porter; fundraiser set

Karpeles Manuscript Libary on Porter Ave Buffalo from Cathy Prion Sarata
A Shakespeare garden will be created at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum on Porter Avenue in Buffalo. Photo courtesy Cathy Prion Sarata

“At Christmas I no more desire a rose than wish snow in May’s new-fangled mirth.”

Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare


by Connie Oswald Stofko

Flowers, herbs and trees mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare will be featured in a new Buffalo Shakespeare Garden that is planned for the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, 453 Porter Avenue, Buffalo. The grand opening is planned for spring 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

A fundraiser for the project will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 27 at the Karpeles. Food will be prepared by Savor, the restaurant at Niagara County Community College. The suggested donation is $20.16.

Please make check payable to: Friends of the Shakespeare Garden at the Karpeles Museum, Russ Link, 56 Arlington Park, Buffalo NY 14201.

This year will be spent fundraising and designing, with groundbreaking planned for 2015 and the dedication planned for 2016, said Cathy Prion Sarata, lead gardener. She and her husband David Sarata are both Master Gardeners and retired English teachers. Russell Link is the project organizer.

area to become Shakespeare garden in Buffalo courtesy Cathy Prion Sarata
The Shakespeare garden may include a performance space near the building that can be used by writers to give readings as well as for weddings. Photo courtesy Cathy Prion Sarata

Grassroots Gardens, an organization that helps  community-led efforts to revitalize the city through the creation and maintenance of community gardens, has accepted the Shakespeare garden and will help get everything in place, said Cathy Prion Sarata.

Christopher Kelly, executive director of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, has given the organizers permission to create the Shakespeare garden on a  triangular plot at the front of the museum.

There are Shakespeare gardens throughout the world, with about 30 Shakespeare gardens in the United States alone.

“There are lots of examples for us to study,” Sarata said.

The Shakespeare garden in Buffalo will contain a knot garden, a formal design used in Elizabethan times that looks like cords twisted into an elaborate knot. Herbs will be grown in the knot garden. Vegetables will be grown in a kitchen garden consisting of raised beds.

“Everything was called an herb in Elizabethan times,” Sarata noted. “If a plant died down by wintertime, it was an herb. ‘Vegetable’ was a new concept.”

There will be a cottage garden, a less formal garden with flowers, along the perimeter of the plot. Traditionally, the Shakespeare gardens are enclosed, often with a stone wall. In Buffalo, there might be a living wall of hedges along Porter and Jersey.

Shakespeare mentions a lot of fruit including apples, plums and apricots, so fruit trees will be incorporated into the design, Sarata said.

While many Shakespeare gardens include a “physic garden” that includes plants used in poisons and potions that the bard mentions in his works, the Buffalo organizers have decided not to include poisonous plants in this public garden.

The organizers hope to have a performance space near the building where writers can do readings and weddings can be held.

Volunteers will maintain the garden once it is completed. Master Gardeners will be able to get volunteer hours working at the garden, Sarata said. Students of Shakespeare may also want to use the opportunity to study Shakespeare through history and horticulture in his plays. Horticulture students may also be interested in helping out.

“I think there are a lot of possibilities,” Sarata said.

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