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Knot Gardens are lovely additions to your garden whether done in large or small scale, and they are increasing in popularity currently. Begun in the medieval times, they were always grown in the courtyards and not many homes were considered complete without one. Since Elizabethan times knot gardens were common features at monasteries and the more upscale estates.

Today they are most often seen in public gardens, although they are enjoying a revival at the moment in home gardening in the United States and Great Britain as well.

The basic design of a knot garden is usually geometric, with interlocking triangles, circles, squares and rectangles, as well as other shapes defined by low narrow hedges.

The spaces inside the hedges that form the knots might be filled with grass, mulch, gravel, or sometimes herbs or flowering plants.

Start with a plan

Because the pattern is best seen from above, knot gardens are often located to be seen from a second story porch or balcony, or planted in a sunken garden.

Sketch the design to scale on graph paper and then decide the plants and shape that you might like.

Before planting make sure that your planting ground is exactly level so that the pattern is not distorted.
Many people who are building knot gardens now are using herbs to do so such as rosemary or the more shrub-like herbs. You will need to set them into the ground according to your layout and exaggerate the design slightly so that it will keep its shape and definition once the plants get older and mature.

Selecting plants

Knot garden plants need to be hardy and very tolerant of regular shearing. some choices are box, barberry, Holly, santolina, lavender, and rosemary. Use several different kinds of plant with differing colors to accent the interlocking shapes.

Although it has a striking blue green foliage, rude can cause an allergic skin reaction so if you do use it handle it only with gloves.

For color and contrast, fill the interior of the knots with low growing plants such as herbs like thyme, sage and wormwood, which will give your garden a subtle look to it.

Add height by using small trees within the hedges or at the corners of your garden.
Some good choices are laurel, roses, heiliotrope, figs and citrus trees all of which can be easily trained to grow to your standards.


Spread crushed marble, red shale chips or pea gravel for a permanent mulch inside your hedges, and renew organic mulches like bark or cocoa hulls yearly.

Keep your knots neatly in place by clipping the plants with sharp shears every 3 weeks during growing season and stop trimming 4 weeks before the first frost so that the plants can harden off before the snow comes in wintertime in colder climates.


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