I ran across this word while researching soaker hoses, and was intrigued.
Parterre comes from 17th century French par terre, which means ‘on the ground’. A parterre is a level space within a garden or landscape that is dedicated to a formal artistic arrangement of flower beds. Most parterres feature gravel walkways and tiny hedges.
Knot gardens are one type of parterre. Knot gardens are usually very formal arrangements of culinary herbs and aromatic plants that have been planted into the shape of various types of knots, within a square space.
Knot gardens were very popular during the 15th century Renaissance, becoming even more elaborate during the 17th century Baroque period. Simple knots evolved into intricate arabesques of plants with varying colors, textures, shapes, and sizes.
Plants commonly used in parterres include: thyme, lemon balm, chamomile, rosemary, violas, germander, hyssop, and Calendulas.
While most of us probably don’t have the time or the space to create these intricate designs, there’s no reason why we can’t enjoy looking at images of parterres around the world and draw inspiration for our own gardens.
I would love to see some before and after photos, if any of you have tried your hand at parterres in your landscape!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!