Knot Gardens for Creativity

    • Pansies and snapdragons can be planted now to replace summer annuals. They will give you color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • If you have dogwood, walnut, birches and maple trees, these should be pruned in late summer or fall because these will bleed sap when pruned in early spring or late winter.
    • Choose chrysanthemums in a variety of colors now. They are hardy perennials which will brighten your garden each fall.
    • Cool season vegetables should be planted right away to insure good crops this fall.
    • Fall is for planting! Trees, shrubs and perennials planted now will grow twice as much next year as those planted next spring.

Knot Gardens for Creativity

Landscaping a new garden area gives you an opportunity to be creative and add some unique features to your landscape. One type of formal garden comes down to us from Elizabethan England, and is known as a knot garden.

A knot garden is a formal garden designed to resemble the threads of ancient Celtic knot work. Knot gardens were commonly designed to display royal coats of arms, figures of plants or animals, or stitches of embroidery. They can be designed either as open knots, with open spaces between the hedges, or as a closed knot where the open spaces are planted with flowers.

While knot gardens are traditionally composed of flat hedges, they can also be shorn and sculpted into three-dimensional under- and overlapping woven strands, creating a beautiful, intricate, undulating effect.

This design has been incorporated into the landscape at our new Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital. Using a shield knot design, it will be a prominent feature of the new landscape. The shield knot is an ancient Celtic symbol of protection. It is also believed to ward off illness.

Many knot gardens use herb plants. The scents, color and textures are displayed at their best advantage to make a small kitchen knot garden, which is both useful to the cook and makes a beautiful display.

Colorful knots can be made using a variety of plants like germander, rosemary and lavender. Or add red-leaved Japanese barberry to a traditional boxwood hedge. Different types or colors of plants can be used to differentiate the threads of the knot. The main requirement is to use plants with fine-textured foliage.

Designs are easy to find, or you can make up your own. Most knot gardens have a symmetrical design, which is pleasing to the eye. Once you have prepared the soil, use flower or lime to draw the design or spray paint your design on the ground. Then place the plants on the ground and rearrange them until you have the design you want. Place them fairly close together, about 18 inches apart.

Let the garden grow naturally or keep the herbs trimmed evenly. Let them bush out and grow into one another to form the knot.The effect can be circles, diamonds and concentric curves that are attractive to look at.

Use long-lived perennial herbs for your knot garden so that it will be there for a long time. Use lavenders and Santolina for grey foliage, rosemary and germander for dark green. Most herbs work well together because they have similar sun and watering needs.

The fully fledged knot garden won’t appear for 2–3 years. During this time, keep trimming it and fertilizing it so it stays lush and healthy. Once established, the knot garden will take good care of itself with minor intervention needed from you.

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