What we choose to plant in our gardens is often linked to our cultural roots – the vegetables, fruits, and flowers we plant and nurture are often reminders of families, ethnicity, and origins. Nowhere is this truer than in Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens. The landscaped gardens along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. began in 1916 with the Shakespeare Garden and then expanded beginning in 1926 into the well-known landmark we celebrate today.
The Gardens are a growing and shifting panorama, illustrative of the different waves of migration and immigration that shaped the city. Their blossoming, so to speak, in the mid-1920s was a bold response to the growth of anti-immigration sentiment in that decade. Their revival in the past thirty plus years is a reflection of the arrival of multiple new immigrant groups in the region. When you visit the gardens, remember that a group’s choice of the statues, markers, and plantings for their particular garden is not only a statement of who “they are” but more importantly, of what they have brought to our nation and our city.