Recently the Catonsville Historical Society in cooperation with the Catonsville Garden Club undertook a project of enhancing the society's grounds with the creation of a knot garden. This new addition was made possible through grant funding with the help of the Baltimore County government, and the Commission on Arts and Sciences. The Society's knot garden adds yet more historical significance to the Townsend House property as well as further beautifying the grounds. The garden also serves as a small reminder of the beautiful gardens that once graced many Catonsville estates such as the Farmlands home of Gustav Lurman Sr., where Catonsville High School is located today.
A knot garden, also known as the parterre, simply uses intricate patterns of low interlacing or miniature tightly clipped hedgework interspersed with colored materials or plants to create the illusion of crossing over one another (giving the appearance of knots). However, to achieve the correct appearance strict geometry must be followed, making the creation of a knot garden a detailed project.
Knot Gardens originated in the 16th century as descendants of the walled gardens of the Middle Ages. They were widely used on the grounds of European castles and estates and remained popular in European gardens for several generations. Among the Europeans, the Knot Garden style was well embraced by the English. However, it is interesting to note that English knot gardens were heavily influenced by the French, though they stayed in style in England much longer.
Historically in America the Knot Garden is likely the oldest form of formal gardening done in America. The American version of the knot garden, of course, came with the first colonists who eventually developed their own variations into versions that could rival the gardens in Europe. By the time the American Revolution took place, knot gardens were relatively common features on the properties of prosperous Americans.