Originally inaugurated by Leo Weidenthal, Shakespeare Garden was the seed that eventually led to the formation of the Cultural Gardens. Dedicated in 1916, the Shakespeare bust and the Shakespeare Garden (now the British Garden) were dedicated as part of a celebration that stretched across the world. Cities and nations located within Britain's sphere of colonial influence, including its former colonies, erected monuments, planted gardens, and held celebrations commemorating the bard's death.
In the 1930s, Weidenthal together with Jennie Zwick and Charles Wolfram, creators of Poet's Corners (Hebrew, German and Shakespeare amphitheater Gardens), changed the name to Cultural Gardens when the idea was expanded to thirteen Gardens in the making. The Shakespeare Garden was renamed as the British Cultural Garden.
Clara Lederer described the Gardens:
"At the entrance are gateposts of English design and the garden boundaries are defined with hedges. The central flagstone walk is lined with multi-hued border plantings, and, together with other her-bordered paths, converging on a bust of Shakespeare flanked by trees. A mulberry tree grows here from cutting sent by the late Sir Sidney Lee, famed Shakespearean critic, from the mulberry, Shakespeare himself planted at New Place, in Stratford. In addition to elms planted by E. H. Sothen and Julia Marlowe, the garden is adorned with oaks planted by the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, and by Phyllis Neilson Terry, niece of Ellen Terry a circular bed of roses (Shakespeare's favorite flower) sent by the Mayor of Verona, from the traditional tomb of Juliet Birnam Wood sycamore maples transplanted from Scotland, and several other representative English forest trees. The Byzantine sundial was presented by the distinguished actor, Robert Mantell. Also formerly included were jars planted with ivy and flowers by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Rabindranath Tagore--the "Shakespeare of India"--and Sarah Bernhardt.
"The garden plot was laid out under the direction of City Forester John Boddy, and was copiously planted with hawthorn, daffodils, violets, fleurs-delis, daisies, pansies, and columbine--the flowers given immortality in the poetry of Shakespeare.
"The Shakespeare Garden inaugural exercises took place on April 14th, 1916, the tercentenary year, on the upper boulevard near the garden entrance. E. H. Sothen and Julia Marlowe were guests of honor. After speeches of welcome by city officials and Mayor Harry L. Davis, the orchestra played selections from Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream," and the Normal School Glee Club sang choral setting of "Hark, Hark, the Lark" and "Who Is Sylvia?" A group of high school pupils in Elizabethan costume escorted the guests to the garden entrance and stood guard during the planting of the dedicatory elms. In his formal talk, Mr. Sothen urged storytelling days for children in the public parks. Miss Marlowe climaxed the proceedings by her readings of Perdita's Perdita's flower scene from "Winter's Tale," the 54th Sonnet of Shakespeare, and verses from the Star Spangled Banner. Her leading of all present in the singing of the National Anthem brought the impressive event to a close."
from Clara Lederer, The Paths are Peace