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Background Strip

plate 8a
Plate 8a. A Garden Picture for Each Season: Early Spring - Early Summer.

The rearmost strip, or if the bed is bordered on two sides by paths, the middle section, should properly contain the tallest plants, usually the late-blooming fall varieties. These are also vigorous, so the width of this strip must be at least three feet, or more if the size of the border permits. Here plant mallows, hollyhocks, helenium, helianthus, and the hardy fall asters (Michaelmas daisies).

The arrangement of this material will depend upon the background that enframes the whole. If the enclosure is made up of shrubs thickly planted and with all the necessary details of accent, texture, and mass arranged for, perennials need not be added solely to give bulk. They can be chosen for color, and will serve to blend the enclosing planting and the herbaceous material. If a wall, fence, trellis, or even a sheared hedge has been used as enclosure, more bulky perennials will be necessary to provide solidity and to hold in place the shimmering colors of the foreground and middle-ground areas.

plate 8b
Plate 8b. A Garden Picture for Each Season: Midsummer - Fall.

If this is your first try at border designing, don't attempt to follow this strip idea too closely and arrange plants solely according to height, or you may end up with a machine-made effect. Remember that one of the best methods of securing accent is a change of line easily secured by placing taller plants, such as a group of lilies, a few hollyhocks, or a clump of phlox, among the lower ones. Occasionally a lower-growing plant, perhaps Sweet William or one of the campanulas, may be carried back into the strip usually allotted to taller plants. These should be used in a large enough group to be effective and create an undulating line, charming in a long border.

plate 11b
Plate 11b. Emphasis can be secured by a change of position of a plant.
plate 11c
Plate 11c. Accent can be secured by the use of contrasting foliage textures.
plate 11d
Plate 11d. Contrast of color is the most common method of securing accent.

Although broad simple masses are excellent, block planting is to be avoided. Plants arranged in long narrow drifts almost always look better, and fewer plants will be needed for an effect since they will be spread out over a wider front. Furthermore, when they are not in bloom, they will not make such a large dead spot. Drifts give the picture a sense of progression, leading the eye on from group to group to the climax. Analysis of the various planting plans in this book will help clarify this method of arrangement. Note particularly Plates 8 and 11 b, c, d.


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