Shakespeare Garden at the Blount County Public Library

 by Corinne D'Aprile

Overlooking Maryville’s Greenbelt Park, the Shakespeare Garden of the Blount County Public Library was begun as a project of the Leadership Blount Class of 2004. Restored and maintained by Blount County Master Gardeners since 2011, it features plants and herbs mentioned in William Shakespeare’s plays.

The Garden is happily at home at the terminus of the bridge over the park connecting downtown Maryville and the library, where there is pedestrian traffic. The walkway into the rear entrance of the library has beds on either side, one of which features a dedicatory plaque and bust of the dramatist. Nearby benches offer rest for walkers. In addition to its natural beauty and pleasing prospect, the Garden serves as a teaching venue for Master Gardeners, as well as a showcase for occasional library events. It offers opportunities for hands-on teaching and service that may include pruning, maintaining perennial plants, and various other needs of a public garden.

Mediterranean plants and herbs are used to maximize survival in a hot summer environment. Thyme provides ground cover, with Rosemary and Parsley as dominant herbs. Plantings include Yarrow, Santolina, Dianthus, Iris, Marigold, Alyssum, Chrysanthemum, Pansy, Daisy, and spring bulb mixes. Fifteen large Knockout Roses bloom throughout the entire warm season. (Which play are they in? We should add that the Garden is not exclusively Shakespearean.) Oriental Magnolias and Azaleas accompany spring blooms along with a mostly boxwood hedge. Metal plaques identify many of the featured plants.

The sign displayed in the Garden highlights the dedication of Blount County Master Gardeners.

Support provided by the Friends of the Blount County Public Library has been helpful with the restoration and ongoing maintenance of the garden. Master Gardeners earn volunteer hours, and the project affords Master Gardener Interns with educational opportunities. Beyond routine maintenance, special projects are planned with local horticulturalists. Workshops on Rose Rosette Disease, Planting New Roses, How to Deadhead Roses, Pruning Woody Ornamentals, and Digging up, Dividing and Replanting Iris have been popular.

Often, people walking by will stop to ask questions about what we are doing, providing opportunities for informal education. On more than one occasion, a stroller has offered to help with weeding chores.

One of the earliest signs that the garden is coming to life are the Daffodils and Star Magnolias blooming at the end of February.

For more information, contact Sandra Widmeyer or Corinne D'Aprile  via email at:

Blount County Extension Master Gardeners

Horticulture questions? ASK a MASTER GARDENER

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