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Knot gardens, parterres, topiary & me

posted in Creating gardens for my clients

Knot gardens, parterres, topiary & me

I have always loved a topiary garden. As far back as I can remember I have loved all the architectural & quirky clipped shapes talented gardeners have fashioned from their imaginations. Have you seen the topiary at Levels Hall? isn’t it fabulous! …

I took this at Villandry in France last year – it is one of the most amazing topiary gardens in the world
drawing of topiary at Pips Place by Jo Alderson Phillips
My proposal for topiary in front of a classical Georgian style house

I now love to design my own knot gardens & parterres or add a selection of quirky topiary pieces to compliment a building or add amazing character to a garden. Above is one of my drawings for the front of a Georgian mansion in Buckinghamshire. The existing driveway is huge & the building really impressive but slightly overwhelming. My intention here is to provide an interesting connection between garden & architecture that is characterful, works year round & will be beautiful to walk through en route to the front door.

The same garden with parterre beyond the kitchen
parterre beside the kitchen door
the main lawn in the secret garden with fabulous mature topiary

Topiary & parterres look amazing when lit too. This is an evening shot of the same house. The parterres I designed around this house called Pip’s Place is all very simple which suit the glamour & grandeur of the building. This French style knot garden below however is within a walled garden beside a group of cottages that have been connected over time to form one house near Henley on Thames. It was such fun to design & my clients maintain it beautifully as you can see here…

knot garden & french fountain in the walled garden near Henley
same garden near Henley at night

I get a huge kick out of seeing my drawings come to life & inhabit once barren spaces, but I also get a huge kick out of designing these knot gardens & parterres for my clients. It’s bit like solving a puzzle! I love puzzles so they generally come quite easily to me but I do study traditional gardens too for inspiration. Here are a few of my sketches & plans..

This one is a contemporary way of using topiary. A very elegant row of topiary pompoms beside a clipped hedge & corten panels that lead the way to the front door of a very modern house.

Finally a tiny courtyard I did in Berkshire. This is viewed from a glass extension. It looks pretty year round & yes it is uplit!

Did you know Medieval monks invented parterres & knot gardens? They called them embroidery for the earth & filled the shapes with medicinal herbs or roses. Brilliant idea – long may they continue – which they certainly will if my clients keep requesting them – being a garden designer is such a great job!

Til next time!