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17 September 2014
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how to be a gardener - The complete online guide

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3 - Combining plants
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Shapes and textures
Plant shapes are the backbone of a design. Look at a border and you’ll notice several groups of plant shapes. Here are some examples:
Combining shapes
Tall and upright
  • A good rule of thumb is ‘tallest at the back, shortest at the front’
  • The same applies to a bed you can walk around: tallest in the centre, smallest at the edges
  • To introduce variety, use a few upright plants in the middle or front, such as delphiniums and lupins
Spiky
  • Plants with upright leaves that look a bit like sword blades make great ‘exclamation marks’ at the start and, or end of a border
  • And as centrepieces in a bed
  • Use small, spiky plants to introduce variety
  • Ones to try include yucca and phormium
Low and spreading
  • Use low plants at the front, and have them ‘flop’ over the edge to ‘soften’ the shape of the border
  • Important if the bed/border has straight edges
  • Examples include aubrieta and stachys
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3. Planting schemes and themes

Introduction
Planting styles
Combining plants
 Shapes and textures
 Colours
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Find thousands more plants in the BBC Gardening database.
Video Video
The supreme challenge of planting is getting the right style. Find out more here.
InteractiveInteractive
Experiment with the colour wheel feature, or take a fun attribute quiz to see what style of garden may suit you.
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