The best way to view the knot garden is from the raised wooden platform, which has been built to the same height as the original Tudor terrace.
The knot garden is planted with dwarf box, not strictly used for this purpose before 1603 but considered a more successful choice than the alternatives. Before this date several other plants were used for knots such as lavender, thyme and hyssop. Knots were of two kinds, open and closed. A closed knot consisted of an interwoven pattern made by planting contrasting threads of plants. An open knot would have consisted of a simpler design without interwoven lines but simply divided into sections.
The fountain carries four spouts which represent the four rivers of paradise, source of all the world’s water according to the book of Genesis. In both the Christian and the Islamic traditions the garden was seen as a symbolic representation of the lost Eden and of paradise in the afterlife.
The four bronze heads are by sculptor Steven Morant and depict the green man beloved of English folklore. Around their heads are the leaves of four native trees characteristic of Essex: oak, small leaved lime, hornbeam and maple. The pool is watered by a rill flowing from the fount. These are eastern features showing the influence of Persia on design in medieval Western Europe.
|Botanical name||Common name|
|Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’||Dwarf box|
|Teucrium x lucidrys||Hedge germander|
|Pyrus cordata||Plymouth pear|
|Santolina chamaecyparissus||Cotton lavender|
|Sorbus torminalis||Wild service tree|