Traditional French parterres were often made with box and coloured gravels

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Parterre de Broderie at Vaux le Vicomte

Parterre de Broderie at Vaux le Vicomte

Modern parterres, of which there are many, are often made with approx 300-600 mm high box and  planted with colourful bedding plants.
Traditional parterres were more often made with lower box hedging (eg 150mm) and decorated with different coloured gravels.