“To sow, or not to sow, that is the question”. Here are 23 Shakespeare garden quotes to channel your Shakespearean self while gardening.

artist’s creative rendition of Shakespeare for the book A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories

Source: Alice Lindstrom (for the book A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories)

Did you know that over the course of his work, William Shakespeare mentioned 175 plants? It’s true— his works were littered with references to plants, flowers, and herbs! He often used these in his metaphors and similes to illustrate people’s personalities. He used them so much in fact; people created the concept of Shakespearean gardens.

Shakespeare was truly very fond of plants. But as to the question if he was a gardener himself, sorry ladies and gentlemen, he probably was not. The knowledge must have stemmed from his grandfather, who was a tenant farmer. He had a vast knowledge of plants however and had many mentions of different types of plants in his works.

So to help you channel your inner poet, here are 23 garden quotes by Shakespeare. Maybe you’ll be saying “To sow, or not to sow, that is the question” at the end of it too!

23 Garden Quotes by Shakespeare

skull on top of a book in a library, black and white medieval image

Source: Colleen O’Dell (Pixabay)

#1
“What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name
Would smell as sweet.”
— Romeo And Juliet

#2
“When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight.”
— Love’s Labours Lost

#3
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there are pansies. that’s for thoughts.”
— Hamlet

#4
“Daffodils,
That come before the swallow dared, and take
The winds of March with beauty.”
— The Winter’s Tale

#5
“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.”
— A Midsummer Night’s Dream

#6
“Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owest yesterday.”
— Othello

#7
“The tempter or the tempted, who sins most?
Ha!
Not she: nor doth she tempts: but it is I
That, lying by the violet in the sun,
Do as the carrion does, not as the flower,
Corrupt with virtuous season.”
— Measure for Measure

#8
“Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew;
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.”
— Sonnet 98

#9
“The forward violet thus I did chide-
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells
If not from my love’s breath?”
— Sonnet 99

#10
“I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks…”
— Sonnet 130

#11
“His steeds to water at those springs
On chaliced flowers that lies;
And winking Mary-buds begin
To open their golden eyes:
With everything that pretty is,
My lady sweet, arise.”
— Cymbeline

#12
“Women are as roses, whose fair flower, Being once displayed, doth fall that very hour.”
— Twelfth Night

#13
“Welcome my son: who are the violets now
That strew the green lap of the new come spring?”
— Richard II

artist’s rendition of Hamlet and Ophelia

Source: H. C. Selous

#14
“To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,…
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.”
— King John

#15
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
— Troilus And Cressida

#16
“Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer’s death, nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest
flowers o’ the season
Are our carnations and streaked gillyvors,
Which some call nature’s bastards: of that kind
Our rustic garden’s barren; and I care not
To get slips of them.”
— The Winter’s Tale

#17
“No more be grieved at that which thou hast did:
Roses have thorns and silver fountains mud;
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.”
— Sonnet 35

#18
“Small herbs have grace: great weeds do grow apace.
And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast,
Because sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.”
— Richard III

#19
“Virtue? A fig!
‘Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus.
Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners.
So that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many either to have it sterile with idleness or manured with industry-why, the power and corrigible authority of this lie in our wills.”
— Othello

#20
“He wears the rose
Of youth upon him.”
— Antony and Cleopatra

#21
“Here are flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed with the sun,
And with him rises weeping; these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.”
— The Winter’s Tale

#22
“The rose looks fair, but fairer it deems
For that sweet odor which doth in it live.”
— Sonnet 54

#23
“Purple violets and marigolds,
Shall as a carpet hang upon thy grave.”
— Pericles

Wrapping It Up

William Shakespeare’s works were filled with references to plants. To pay homage to this, people created Shakespearean gardens which cultivate some, if not all of the flowers and herbs mentioned in his works.

Even though there is no definitive proof that he was a gardener, he was definitely someone who appreciated the beauty of nature. And we can rightly assume, someone who pulls inspiration and motivation from it. And of course, you can use it too! Ideas may spring out of nowhere while you’re up and about in the garden.

Have you said “To sow, or not to sow, that is the question” yet? If not, here are a few more articles to better bring out the poet in you:

  • Article for garden poems and quotes (main keyword)
  • Wholesome Gertrude Jekyll Quotes (Your Dose of Inspiration)

Hi there! I’m Guy, the guy behind Guy About Home (that’s a lot of guy’s). I’m just your average guy (ok, I’ll stop) living in the USA who is really interested in making and doing.