Inspired By: Knot Gardens – Loose Knots

knot garden via

Knot gardens in your average American garden always seem to me to a be bit of a trick.  In their most traditional style of implementation…they come across as a little pretentious (IMO), slightly old-fashioned and unless you have a house that looks like an English Manor with a gardening staff to accompany it…they are are probably too high maintenance for the average homeowner.

loose knot gardens via

But taking inspiration from the classic Knot garden – these modern looser versions are much more achievable and appropriate.  This one by Eckersly Garden Architecture in Australia, uses sedum and a variety of drought tolerant grasses to create simple patterns. loose knot gardens via

loose knot gardens via

The Filoli Knot Garden, while being precisely the kind of place you might expect an old-fashioned,  clipped-tight Knot garden, takes the idea in a looser direction by using plants that don’t need the clipping and it is their looser form that gives this knot movement.  The lavender and berberis  appear in glorious drifts that also happen to be pleasingly symmetrical

filoli know garden via

Some of the plants used in this garden:

  • Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ –English Lavender 
  • Berberis thunbergii ‘Crimson Pygmy’ – JapaneseBarberry 
  • Ballota pseudodictamnus – Woolly Horehound 
  • Teucrium chamaedrys- Germander 
  • Rosmarinus of icinalis ‘Tuscan Blue’ – Rosemary (topiary standards)

filoli knot garden via

Here is a looser example that uses a variety of berberis and boxwood from cherry gal.

loose knot gardens via

And another completely achievable version from dry stone gardens.

loose knot garden via

I’m a huge fan of Sedum – it is simply stunning through New England autumns and am thinking to use it to even greater effect in a loose knot.  Besides Lavender, Berberis, Santolina, grasses and some of the other plants mentioned here, I am wondering if you have experimented with loose knots and found any plant treasures to make them more modern, low maintenance and achievable for modern homes?

Images: by TobiEckersley GardensLandscape Focus, Filoli Knot Garden with Lavender from Naturetime by Pam and Richardcherry gal,  dry stone gardens.


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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.


  1. [email protected] Trekker on March 27, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    A lot to think about, the photos are interesting, and provide some real nuggets of inspiration.

  2. elisa on March 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    completely gorgeous, how inspiring! i love the idea of a loose knot, loose patterns. i’ll keep this in mind x

  3. Lipstick Jane on March 28, 2013 at 11:14 am

    What a great idea! We live in Denver and are xeriscaping our large front yard this spring. So I am trolling for ideas. I think the sedum one & the lavender one would be nice. Thank you for sharing this twist on a classic garden.

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