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.
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:
- Alexandra Hicks Herb Knot Garden, University of Michigan, USA
- Antony House, Cornwall, England
- Anzac Square, Dunedin, New Zealand
- Barnsley House, Gloucestershire, England
- Bourton House Garden, Gloucestershire, England
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York City, USA
- Cleveland Botanical Garden, USA
- Compton Castle, Devon, England
- Garden Museum, London, England
- Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, England
- Knowle, Solihull, England
- Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire, England
- Red Lodge Museum, Bristol, England
- St Fagans, South Wales
- "The Dunedin Railway Station". Cityofdunedin.com. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- Gloucestershire: the Cotswolds, The Buildings of England edited by Nikolaus Pevsner, 2nd ed. (1979) ISBN 0-14-071040-X, pp.96-100
- Fedden, Robin; Joekes, Rosemary (1984). The National Trust Guide. The National Trust. pp. 155, 257. ISBN 978-0-224-01946-0.
- "The Red Lodge Museum". Culture 24. Retrieved 24 October 2015.