Tudor landscaping

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Tudor landscaping
Tudor landscaping of the knot garden uses plants to make geometric shapes. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Gardens in England during the 16th century Tudor period were very formal and structured, and one of their purposes was to show the wealth and status of the owner. Starting during the time of Henry VIII, the gardens of the nobility reflected the social differences and divisions of the English people and influenced landscaping for the next few hundred years. A Tudor revival took place during the early 20th century in the U.S., and a multitude of traditional Tudor-style houses around the country are well-suited to landscaping of the period.

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Early Tudor Gardens

High walls, a formal layout and elaborate gates characterised the early Tudor garden, which was designed in the style of the medieval English gardens. During the years 1510 to 1520, the third Duke of Buckingham created three gardens at Thornbury Castle. One was a "knot" garden and one an orchard stocked with fruit trees and roses and decorated with walkways that had arbors of whitethorn and hazel. The knot garden showed direct Italian Renaissance influence, and although it was never completely finished, it served as an inspiration for other gardeners for many years.

Knot Gardens

A favourite landscaping style during the Tudor period was the knot garden, which features evergreen herbs or low hedges planted to form geometric patterns such as "cartwheels." The edges of the knot are planted with one type of herb while the centre of the pattern is filled in with another, or the low hedges surround flowers such as primroses and violets. Some knots have grass or stone pathways between the patterns.

Tudor Garden Layout

Tudor landscaping includes a variety of Italian features, such as summer houses, grottoes, arbors and stone pavilions. Garden ornaments, statues and sculptures are also very common. Decorative items such as viewing mounts, fountains and mazes are used to offset the walkways; gardens are created for specific purposes, such as a pond garden for fish. Precise measurements govern the design of the Tudor garden, which is intended to have decorative as well as utilitarian qualities.

Famous Tudor Garden

Thomas Peter, a landowner in Georgetown, Washington, bought a property on the edge of the town in 1805. On the site he built Tudor Place, a historic U.S. home and one of the country's most famous Tudor houses. Peter completed building the house in 1816, and it remained in the family until 1983. The garden underwent many changes during the mid-20th century to shape the current landscape design. The landscaping includes a bowling green, a flower knot, a tennis lawn that was originally a peach orchard and a boxwood ellipse, which is boxwood shaped in a circle around a small lawn that provides a focal point for the main approach to the house.

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