Quail Ridge Farms

Heston, Indiana

Quail Ridge Farm Nursery And Landscaping, Inc., is located in Heston, Indiana, just a few miles west of Lake Michigan. Hundreds of varieties of herbs are grown there including culinary, medicinal and ornamental varieties. Their customers include some of the finest restaurants in Chicago; landscape designers, retail grocers and home gardeners. For more information:

Phone: (219) 778-2194

FAX: (219) 778-9320

(800) 757-7752

Quail Ridge Farm is best known as the home of the Shakesperean Gardens which features living examples of more than fifty of the herbs and flowers mentioned in Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. Each group of plants has a quote from one of the Bard's works. To help visitors place these plants into historical context, Paul Bartholomew, President and CEO of Quail Ridge Farm provides a guide to their many visitors:

The Rose Garden

Old Fashioned roses and the newest in landscape roses combined around a flowing fountain to thrill your senses.

The Japanese Garden

A stream flows from the rocks into a quiet pool that reflects the serenity and beauty of our Japanese Garden.

The Water Pond Garden

A pond surrounded by native wetland plants is an amphitheater for the singing frogs that line the bank and sit on lily pads. And a mecca for the many birds and wildlife of the area.

The Prairie Garden

A native prairie with wildflowers and grasses invites you to stroll its paths.

The Wonderful World of Plants

A walk through gardens with hundreds of perennials and shrubs to demonstrate the beauty, versatility and wonder of the plant kingdom.

Plant Evaluation Garden

New and interesting species and varieties are on display and are evaluated for their performance in this climate.

Perennial Garden

A display garden featuring our most popular perennial flowers and plants. This area also contains some of our production mass plantings of herbs.

Demonstration and Propagation Boxes

New plant varieties and mass growing of certain herbs for propagating makes an interesting show for the plant lover.

Native American Garden

The indigenous plants used by the American Indians for food, medicine and shelter.

The Alpine Rock Garden

Featuring alpine and rock garden perennials and ornamentals.

The Woodland Garden

To open in 1996, it will feature native American wildflowers and ferns. We will continue to add gardens every year.

A Guide to the Shakesperean Gardens

at Quail Ridge Farm

You can meet Shakespeare in our garden. His works speak not only of the Elizabethan gardens of the great European families of the 16th and 17th centuries, which he used as settings in plays like Romeo and Juliet, but passed through in visiting Anne Hathaway's cottage. He also described the wild "gardens" of the fields and meadows and the medicinal plants growing outside the castle walls where Friar Lawrence collected potent herbs to induce Juliet's sleep. Many gardens today contain the herbs and flowers that Shakespeare referred to so often in his works.

Our small version of an Elizabethan garden contains only a few from the long list noted by Shakespeare. These plants are readily available today and can easily be grown by the average gardener. Next to each type of planting can be found the Shakesperean quotation referring to that plant and the work it comes from.

Listed below in alphabetical order are the names of each plant with additional information noted. Many of these plants can be obtained in the spring of the year from the Quail Ridge Greenhouses. We also carry a number of dried herbs the year around.

Balm, Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)

Many references in the plays pertain to a balsam imported from the East and called balm. These refer to Melissa, or lemon balm, an attractive foliage plant with lemon-scented leaves.

Box Tree, Búxus sp.

Although Shakespeare mentions the box tree only once, it is well known that this tree played a major part in the gardens if his day. The deep green of the tree made it a symbol of Pluto, the god of the world of the dead. The presence of box in English gardens is thought to be attributable to the Romans, who used it lavishly in their transplanted gardens, In England, box found a happy climate and became a part of the framework on which the Tudor gardens were built. It is as ancient as the Old Testament.

Broom, Cytises scoparius

This beautiful and usually hardy shrub blooms with fragrant yellow or white flowers, and its trailing growth is decorative throughout the year. Under its Latin name of Planta genista, it gave its name to the Plantagenet family in the time of Henry II. It was a special flower of the Scotch.

Burnet (Salad Burnet), Sanquisorbe minor

Burnet, a salad herb, was used in parts of England as a forage crop for cattle, so its inclusion here with other meadow plants is understandable. It has since become well known for its cucumber flavor and is a culinary joy.

Camomile, Roman Anthemis nobilis

The garden emblem of sweetness and humility, Camomile is often called the apple of the earth. It has fine bright green foliage, and a smell of apples when walked upon. The flowers look like tiny daisies.

Carnation, Dienthus caryophyllus

Carnations once were called coronations because the flowers were used to make wreaths, crowns, and garlands. The genus name, Dianthus, under which most pinks are classified, meant flowers of Jove. Chaucer called it the clove gilliflower, and from its use in wine bowls it was called sops in wine. The name Caryophyllus, or nut leaves, comes from the old name of the Indian clove tree. It was transferred to the carnation because the flower was so strongly scented of cloves.

Columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris

Called the dove plant, columbine was also thought to be the favorite plant of lions and thus was known also as Herba leonis. It was highly regarded for its medicinal values, In religious symbolism, the columbine signified the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Little doves were formed by the five petals of the flower. Early Flemish painters changed the five petals to seven to make the flower agree with the reaching of the church.

Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare

In appearance, fennel closely resembles dill but has a sweet anise flavor which is altogether different. The seeds, which are dried for use, are oval in shape and have a much stronger flavor than the leaf.

Historically fennel was used as a medicine. It was believed to strengthen the eyesight and to settle an upset stomach. In ancient Greece it was considered a symbol of success.

Fennel is well known as the "fish herb." Seeds or leaves give an excellent flavor when added to the water for poached or boiled fish.

Flax, Lenum graneforum, L.perenne, L. trigynum, L.usitatissimum

Flax, one of the great items of commerce in post-ages, was a native of Egypt and was mentioned in the Book of Exodus. It was carried by traders all through the civilized world and was easily naturalized in the mild and moist climate of England. It was a most useful herb, and produced linen, linseed oil, linseed meal, cake, and flaxseed for poultices. Flax legends are many. Great virtues were attributed to it, and it fugured largely in spring and midsummer festivals. All the many linums are beautiful.

Hyssop, Hyssop officinoles

Hyssop is a handsonme, hardy, and rather woody shrub with shining leaves that are narrow and pointed. It has bright blue, white, or pink blossom. Hyssop is an ancient herb and its flavor and aroma led to the use of hyssop in the preserving of meat and medicinally as a cleansing herb. Hyssop is one of the flavering herbs in the liqueur chartreuse.


The Iris, once classed among the lilies and so mentioned in Shakespeare, is our "flower-de-luces." In Egypt the Iris was the symbol of eloquence and power and adorned the brow of the sphinx. The petals of the flower, of which there were originally three, decorated the scepter of the earthly monarchs of Egypt, Babylon, and Greece and represented faith, wisdom, and valor. Lovely Iris, a messenger of the gods, gave her name to the many-colored flowers as prismatic as the rainbow, they were the bridge upon which she descended to earth.

Iris became the flower of France in the time Clovis. Saint Clotilde had a vision of the flower, a good omen, which caused Clovis, her husband to remove the frogs from his shield to substitute the Iris, Lous VII also dreamed of the Iris, and in 1137 it became has heraldic device. It was known as the fleur de Louis, from which came the name fluer-de-lis.

Ivy, English, Hedera helix baltica

For the Shakespearean garden English ivy seems most appropriate. It grows well, is green both winter and summer, and spreads easily.

Lavender, Levendula vera

Although lavender and its varieties are among the most important plants in the herb garden, it is mentioned only once by Shakespeare. This is probably because its introduction into England was relatively recent and it was not at that time so commonly identified with English gardens, It is a native of the dry, barren places in the mountains of southern France, and farther south in the Canary Islands.

Lettuce, Latuca sativa

This herbal vegetable came to England with the Romans and was largely cultivated by the Anglo-Saxons, who understood its narcotic properties for inducing sleep. Because it was pleasant tasting and soothing, it was given the name of sleepwort.

Lily, Lilium

From Parkinson's writings we gather that a great variety of lilies were known to the Elizabethan gardeners. First in popularity was L. candidum, the pure white stately lily. The tiger and the martagon, or Turk's-cap, were also popular. The crown imperial, or Fritillaria imperiales of the lily family, was in favor to the white lily; it was a native of Kashir and was taken to Constantinople and into Vienna from whence it came to England.

Marigold, Calendule officinalis

This Marigold is our pot marigold or calendula. It has had many manes through the centuries, for it was one of the most loved of wild and garden flowers. An early name is Spouse solis, the spouse of the sun, "because it sleeps and is awakened with him." An old English name is ruddes; another, gold flowers. Chaucer calls it "yellow goldes." Medieval Monks placed it in their many gardens and added the name of Mary to the decscriptive gold. According to legend, Mary wore this flower, the "Mary-buds" of Shakespeare, in her bosom. The term clendula was derived from the fact that in its warm Italian home it bloomed on the first day of every month.

Other names of marigold are Sun's Bride, Husbandman's Deal, and Sun's Herb. It was called Heliltropesolsequieum by the Greeks, who believed that its origin was with the nymph Clytie, who gazed all day at the sun in hopeless adoration and was at last transformed into a flower that lived only for the kiss of the god of the heavens.

Our garden flowers commonly called marigolds today are actually the Tagates erecta (African marigold ) and the Tagetes pautal (French marigold). They come in many varieties and color shades. We display in our Shakespearean garden both the Calendula and the Tagetes.

Marjoram (sweet), Majorama hortensis

Marjoram is a favorite annual that comes easily from seed. In Elizabethan times, several fo the origanums were grown, and some of these are now called oregano.

Mint (English Black Peppermint), Mentha piperita vulgaris

Mints are an important part of every herb garden, large or small. They are of ancient origin and were used to perfume the air, to season foods, and to clear the head. They were thought to produce wisdom in the very breathing of their scent. In Shakespeare's time mints were gathered from the wild as they were in early America.

Myrtle, Myrtus communis

While bathing, venus and her nymphs were enfolded in the myrtle tree, and thus protected from advances of the satyrs. From this incident, myrtle, the plant of love, was dedicated to Venus and became a favorite in the English garden. It was often grown in tubs so it might be moved easily to decorate terraces or indoor plantings.

Pansy, Viola tricolor

The pansy of Shakespeare's time was the little Viola tricolor, known to us as Johnny-jump-up, or Heartsease. The larger, more colorful pansy of our day was not developed until 1875. This small Johnny-jump-up was considered magical, as readers of the Midsummers Night's Dream will remember; for the juice squeezed upon Titania's eyelids and upon the others asleep in the forest caused much interesting confusion. The viola was also deemed to be medicinal, especially as a heart medicine. Both the Johnny-jump-up and the hybrid pansies are on display in the garden.

Parsley, Petroselinum crispum

The most familiar types of parsley are the curly-leaved or moss parsley and the French, or plain-leaved parsley. Grow curly parsley for decoration and French parsley for flavor. Hot parsley tea is a tonic and a diuretic. It is believed to help those who suffer from rheumatism, and is of use to dieters as it helps remove excess fluid from body tissues. Chew parsley leaves to sweeten the breath.

The Rose, Rosa sp.

The rose appears throughout Shakespeare's works. Sixty references extol the beatuies of the queen of flowers. The roses of his day that were most sweet and poetical were the red rose, the white rose, the damask, and the musk rose.

Not only were roses grown for scent and beauty in the garden, but the flowers were gathered to make essences, sweet bags, and rose jars to perfume the house. Rose syrup was used as a cordial, and the rose petals were made into jam and were candied for decorations. Rose water was used for bathing. So great was the commercial demand that dried roses were imported from Constantinople.

The rose became the Christian symbol of the Virgin Mary, the white rose symbolizing purity; the red represents the blood of the martyrs. Rosaries are said to have been made originally of pressed rose petals.

Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosemary was a plant of marked inportance in Shakespear's time. It was considered decorative by the landscape gardeners and by gentlemen gardeners of Bacon's stature. Rosemary is a plant that delights in sea spray and is therefore called Rosmarinus, or dew of the sea.

Rue, Ruta officinalis

A bank of rue in the Shakespeare garden is a joy. Its blue green, cut leaves change little with the seasons. Rue, in England, was called the judge's plant, for it was either suspended over the judges' heads to protect them from jail fever when they were sentencing prisoners or was put into nosegays and laid on either the judge's desk or the book of laws. Bunches of rue were used to sprinkle holy water in the churches, thus the name, Herb O' Grace. It was also used as an expression of regret, as in "to rue the day."

Savory (summer), Satureja hortensis

The various savories were favorite plants of Shakespeare's day and were often mentioned as stuffing herbs.

Strawberry, Fragaria vesca

Fragaria vesca is a native of Europe that has naturalized in the United States. It is a creeping plant with tiny white blosssoms and red or white fruit.

Thyme, Thymus serpyllum

Thyme and its many varieties are such an integral part of the herb garden that it is hard to imagine a planting of such a garden without it. It was once used by the Greeks and Romans as incense in sacrifices from whence it received its name Thymon. This was introduced into the English language as thyme-- serpyllum refers to its creeping habit.

Wormwood, Artemisia absenthium

"As bitter as wormwood" has long been descriptive of this handsome member of the Artemisia family. Other members include Southernwood, Mugwort, and Tarragon. It has always enjoyed a high reputation in folk medicine and is famous for its use in the manufacture of absinthe, manufacture of which is now subject to legal restrictions in many jurisdictions. Today it may be used as an herbal moth preventive, in veterinarian medicines, in bitters, and as a tonic of taken under careful supervision.