“These flow’rs are like the pleasures of the world” ~Cymbeline IV, ii

Alexis Kreusch
These are the words engraved around a fountain in the center of one of the Shakespearean gardens in Stratford, Canada. Shakespeare incorporated plants into many of his plays such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet. Later, it became an idea to collect and display all the plants mentioned throughout Shakespeare’s plays into one garden. Thus, the birth of a Shakespearean Garden. 
Shakespearean gardens
While exploring the area, I have come across two of these gardens. One is near the river and the other is outside the Festival Theatre. They share many components such as a tribute to Shakespeare himself and labels near the plants to show there significance.
Festival Garden Shakespearean gardens
Town garden     Shakespearean gardens
My favorite part was the quotes from the plays with the exact act and line where it is found next to the plant that was representing it.  One that I found was from Hamlet Act V 174, “There’s rosemary; that for remembrance pray you, love, remember.” 

However, the gardens vary in many qualities as well. The Festival Garden had other interesting gardens such as a witch’s garden filled with ingredients for spells, Wolfsbane and Devil’s Herb,  and a romance garden filled with plants for perfumes and beauty, Fringed Pink and Sweet William. I loved seeing and learning the past uses of so many plants. 

The Shakespearean Garden near town had such a calm atmosphere. I could have brought a book and read all day in a place with that feeling. I explored the many plants and the interesting structures around the area. There was tower built to commemorate a wool mill, a cute little cottage, and a metal gazebo. 
Shakespearean gardensShakespearean gardens
The best part of the garden was the bridge to a more secluded area shrouded in shade from all the trees. There were benches right next to the water banks that glistened with sunlight and had an amazing view of the river and bridges. It was just the picturesque area for a romantic date in a Nicholas Spark’s book.
Shakespearean gardensShakespearean gardens
I really loved both gardens and having the opportunity to explore all the corners and hidden treasures found in a Shakespearean Garden.  

I Scream! You Scream! We All Scream for Ice Cream!

I Scream! You Scream! We All Scream For Ice Cream! by Amy Young

I have to admit I’m somewhat of an ice cream connoisseur. I love everything about this icy and delicious treat from gelato, frozen yogurt, ice cream, sorbet, soft serve, “hard” ice cream, and sherbet. Every time I visit a new city, I make it a practice to try out my favorite sweet treat. On my first trip to Stratford, Ontario I immediately noticed the variety of ice cream shops and decided to conduct “research” on my trip. In the last three days, I’ve tried four varieties of ice cream. Please don’t judge me. I’m walking an average of five miles a day and am undoubtedly burning off the extra calories.

First, I tried a scoop of vanilla ice cream over a warm chocolate coconut pecan brownie in the Arden Hotel’s restaurant located at 552 Ontario Street. This is always an excellent combination and I was craving something sweet at the end of a long day of watching excellent theater, sightseeing, and shopping. This particular vanilla ice cream was passable yet not remarkable. The cost for this dessert was reasonable at$6.99, but I prefer creamy vanilla bean to plain vanilla and found the ice cream to be a bit too icy in texture.

The next day before lunch I tried a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough at The Big Scoop’s booth at the Canada Day Festival downtown. This vendor served eight flavors of Chapman ice cream in a waffle cone and charged $3.50 for a single scoop and $4.00 for a double scoop. I found the ice cream to be fairly delicious, creamy, and satisfying with a perfect ratio of chocolate chips to cookie dough chunks. The only drawback with this ice cream was that the portion was somewhat small and I was left wanting more!

After dinner I strolled by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and noticed they served ice cream; of course, I felt obliged to stop and sample the goods. Choices included 12 flavors of hand dipped ice cream, cartons of frozen yogurt and sorbet, and chocolate dipped ice cream bars and frozen bananas. Prices were a bit higher at $4.99 a scoop, so I sampled a spoonful of toffee maple crunch ice cream.  Although the ice cream was creamy, smooth, and full of flavor, I found it to be too sweet for my taste buds and decided not to indulge in a full scoop.

My next ice cream adventure began at Jenn & Larry’s Brittle’n Shakes & Ice Cream Cakes located at 49 York Street, a quaint street next to the river, a coffee shop, a book store, and a tea shop. This store has served Larry’s milkshakes since 1967 and Jenn’s peanut brittle since 1999 and opened its current location in 2010. I discovered that this shop is a favorite among Stratford locals because it is family owned and everything is homemade. I liked it because of its retro feel and bright colored décor. Besides serving ice cream and peanut brittle, Jenn & Larry’s serves a wide variety of flavors of gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet, and also offers dipped soft serve cones, floats, and sundaes. I selected coconut gelato in a to go container so I could eat and shop simultaneously. This gelato cost $ 3.99. I was not disappointed in the flavor, texture, and size of the gelato and found it to be absolutely delicious! I highly recommend Jenn & Larry’s and will definitely be returning for a second round before departing Stratford.

I talked to a Stratford shopkeeper who also frequents Jenn & Larry’s and she happened to mention that her nephew prefers the ice cream at Chocolate Barr’s Candies located on 55 George St. West. I feel it’s my duty to at least check it out.  There’s always tomorrow!

The Cultural Biography of Things

A park bench in the Shakespeare garden, a bowl of hot poutine, artwork at the Stratford Gallery, or a life-size carousel housed in the archives…these are some of the objects you’ll experience in Stratford. Take a picture and research the cultural biography of an object of your choice, then pin it in our google maps so we can all find it again.