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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
  • 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
3. Planting schemes and themes

Planting styles
Combining plants
 Shapes and textures
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The supreme challenge of planting is getting the right style. Find out more here.
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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