This woodland garden located in the quiet corner across from the Lamberton Conservatory was established by The Rochester Garden Club in 1916 to honor William Shakespeare on the 300th anniversary of his death.
At the inception of the garden, plant selections were inspired by specimen's referred to by Shakespeare in his writings. For this, their inaugural community project, one hundred volunteers from the Garden Club participated by planting in the areas adjacent to the 275-foot long pathway. Stone benches adorned with Shakespeare's quotes, a sundial and bird bath were also added.
Unfortunately, many of the original Shakespeare's plants failed to flourish in the local climate and it became necessary to substitute alternate plant materials in their place. It was at this time that the garden became known as the Poet's Border. Later, the Rochester Garden Club installed an iron gate, featuring the garden's third name, Poet's Garden.
Over the years, many new trees, shrubs, ferns, and wildflowers have been planted in the garden with an emphasis on native species.
A plaque that tells the history of the garden was installed in memory of Eleanor A. McQuilkin, a poet and nature lover, whose influence and monetary donation was instrumental in the 1992 restoration of the garden.
Today, this naturalistic area features spring bulbs and wildflowers. Members of the Rochester Garden Club and master gardeners from the Cornell Cooperative Extension, with support of the County of Monroe parks staff, maintain the garden. The Poet's Garden is an example of a public/private partnership that has lasted for over 100 years.