hen Julie Podolny Lackey made plans to wed her longtime fiancé, Joel Lackey, this summer, she decided it was time to tie the knot symbolically as well as literally.
So she created a knot garden in the backyard of their Las Vegas home, the site of their reception.
A knot garden is recognized by its design and the fact that all the plants touch, said Lackey, who has a degree in landscape architecture from UCLA and is a licensed landscape contractor in Nevada.
According to the Museum of Garden History in London, a knot garden is a formal garden planted with miniature, permanent hedges laid out in geometric or elaborately scrolling patterns within a square frame. The areas between the lines are filled in with colorful plants, aromatic herbs or colored stones. They have been popular in Britain since the 16th century.
"It's very layered. I call it organized clutter," Lackey said. "You have to know how and where to plant each plant."
Though formal knot gardens are more typically found in lusher climates, Lackey said it is possible to create one using plants that thrive in the desert.
She began working on her knot garden in March so it would have time to grow and develop before her June wedding. Lackey planted the outer edge with boxwood, which is traditionally used to define the perimeter of a knot garden, while the interior sections were created with euonymus. The center areas were filled with spring annuals in shades of pink, orange, white and purple.
Lackey said one of the advantages of a knot garden is that they can be planted in stages and changed seasonally, as she plans to do with the center areas of her garden.
Once the basic form is established, it's just a matter of filling in the holes, she said. More adventurous gardeners can shape, arch or interlock the hedges that create the patterns.
Knot gardens also are good for smaller spaces, especially areas where a person wants to make a statement.
To start a knot garden, Lackey said it's OK to use small, 1-gallon plants.
"As it progresses, it will grow," she said.
The smaller, younger plants also are easier to shape into the desired patterns.
Although a knot garden can be enjoyed at ground level, Lackey said they are best viewed from above where the patterns can be seen in their entirety.
This was not the first knot garden Lackey has created. She had one planted in her yard in Santa Barbara, Calif., where she lived before moving to Las Vegas.