A knot garden is a garden of very formal design in a square frame, consisting of a variety of aromatic plants and culinary herbs including germander, marjoram, thyme, southernwood, lemon balm, hyssop, costmary, acanthus, mallow, chamomile, rosemary, Calendula, Viola and Santolina. Most knot gardens now have edges made from box (Buxus sempervirens), whose leaves have a sweet smell when bruised. The paths in between are usually laid with fine gravel. However, the original designs of knot gardens did not have the low box hedges, and knot gardens with such hedges might more accurately be called parterres.
Most Renaissance knot gardens were composed of square compartments. A small garden might consist of one compartment, while large gardens might contain six or eight compartments.
Knot gardens were based on Renaissance designs that were used in forms of indoor decoration such as textiles, carpets, wall coverings and cushions. They are often designed to be viewed from above and encompass an interlocking or intertwining pattern using clipped common box, Buxus sempervirens.
Unlike like French parterres, knot gardens are usually small and of varying heights where hedges form junctions to indicate the crossing or knotting of 'threads.'
Knot gardens were first established in England in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Some early knot gardens have been covered over by lawn or other landscaping, but the original traces are still visible as undulations in the present day landscape. An example of this phenomenon is the early 17th-century garden of Muchalls Castle in Scotland.
Knot gardens have become established in many temperate formal gardens throughout the world, including:
A knot garden is featured in Shakespeare's play Love's Labour's Lost.
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