Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 8, Issue 1
   January 2013
 
   Knot Gardens
 
 
Knot gardenKnot garden
Knot gardens gained popularity in England during the 16th and 17th centuries.

A horticultural treat awaits you at the glorious Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. It is composed of various themed garden areas that reflect the history of the region, the first permanent European settlement in North America. The knot garden represents a fascinating type of formal garden that first became popular in Tudor England (1485-1603). Depictions on Italian woodcuts from the late 15th century show that Italy was likely the influence for these early English gardens, which developed and flourished throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The knot at the Historic Gardens features an intricate geometric woven design formed by carefully clipped lavender hedges and sections filled with colored materials, including stones, charcoal and crushed shells.

The garden's horticulturist Karen Achenbach explained that knot gardens historically symbolized unity and strength, with the knot being the tie or bond. The orderly design set within a square supported the principle that a harmonious relationship should exist between the architecture of the house and that of the garden. Both building and garden required a geometric framework.

Knot gardens were meant to be viewed and appreciated from elevated vantage points so that the overall pattern could be seen clearly. The designs were adapted from decorative interlocked motifs used in tapestries, carpets, ceramics, carved wooden panels and furnishings. The gardens varied in size. They could be completely enclosed by a square or rectangular hedge with compartments for colored materials that highlighted the hedge pattern or they could be open with pathways incorporated into the design and sections filled with aromatic or colorful low-growing plants.

 
 
             
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