Little Moreton Hall Knot Garden project

Green box hedges laid out in a symmetrical pattern, with gravel and turf in between.

A much-loved feature of Little Moreton Hall’s garden for fifty years, the Knot Garden is formed of box hedging spanning hundreds of metres. In 2019, we discovered it had sadly become affected by box blight and so we’re now working on a long-term project to restore it.

Over the past few years, we’ve made several attempts to rid the box plants of the fungal disease, including applying treatments of a fertiliser designed specifically for preventing box blight. However, this wasn’t successful and the disease has spread throughout the Knot Garden.

What is box blight?

Box blight has been ravaging Europe and Britain since the 1990's and no cure has yet been found. Its relentless spread has been helped by the milder weather and wetter ground conditions of recent years, a trend that climate scientists expect to continue.

Box blight is caused by two types of fungi, Cylindrocladium buxicola and Pseudonectria buxi. The blight causes leaves to go brown and fall off which leads to bare patches. Once present it spreads rapidly, turning lush, green growth into a forlorn mass of dead twigs. The disease can last up to six years and there is currently no cure.

What are we doing?

Beginning in June 2021, we’re carrying out a long-term project to protect to future of the Knot Garden and try to prevent box blight from returning.

Firstly, we’ll be trimming the box plants to ground level and removing all infected material including the leaves and soil. This will be quite a dramatic change to how you might be used to seeing the Knot Garden, but unfortunately it is necessary.

Throughout the rest of 2021, we’ll be allowing the box plants to grow back. During this time, we’ll experiment with four different methods to identify the most effective way of preventing box blight from returning. This includes: leaving the box plants to grow back untreated as a control, applying specialised fertiliser, applying mycorrhizal fungus, and finally a combination of mycorrhizal fungus, bonemeal and fertiliser.

How can you help?

We often imagine plants, particularly impressive features like the Knot Garden, are unchanging and will last forever. But unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Our gardeners work hard throughout the year to keep the garden healthy and projects like this require significant time and resource.

Every time you visit Little Moreton Hall, spend money in the tea room and pre-loved bookshop or become a National Trust member, it gives us the support we need to carry out this important work. Donations, big or small, are also welcome. With your help, we can protect the future of the Knot Garden.