Parterre gardens originate from the 15th century French renaissance. They are formal gardens created using a level surface and symmetrical designs incorporating flower beds and neatly clipped, low hedging. Gravel pathways are used in between the flower beds to provide a walkway so visitors can leisurely explore the gardens and enjoy the ornate displays.
Developed in France by Claude Mollet, a nurseryman turned designer, these elaborate gardens were popular with the European elite for many decades. Although other gardening trends came and went, parterre designs stood the test of time and have experienced a fresh burst of popularity since the 19th century. Now, flat surfaces are put to use by planting flowering annuals at the start of each season, supported by evergreen hedging. Parterres work well when there is also a raised patio area from which to view the garden.
How to create a Parterre garden design
Although Buxus sempervirens or Parterre Box is the traditional choice for the tightly clipped hedging, there are plenty of other parterre garden plants that also work well. Dwarf Box (Buxus sempervirens suffruticosa) is perfect, especially for low borders; Japanese Holly (Ilex Crenata) is a great alternative as it boasts small glossy foliage and a dense habit, or, why not try Euonymus Jean Hugues which is so similar to Boxwood only the experts can tell the difference!