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Short, Medium, and Tall

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October 23, 2012
A common garden design trick is to layer your flower beds front to back with short, medium, and tall plants. Today I’m the campus of Mississippi State University where that are wonderful examples of this planting strategy. This beautiful shady bed is at one of the historical entrances to campus. The short plants in front are Aaron caladium with white leaves and green margins. Caladiums should always be mass planted for the best landscape performance. The intermediate plants are beautiful angel wing begonia. The bright red flowers are gorgeous above the white caladium. Adding dramatic height is the violet stemmed Colocasia Fontanesii, commonly called violet stemmed elephant ear. Another impressive planting bed is in the middle of a European-style traffic round-about. The short plants in front are foxtail fern with the bushy fronds. Mississippi Medallion Winner White Serena Angelonia are massed creating a solid planting. There are a variety of medium sized plants. Lavender Sunpatiens, also a Mississippi Medallion winner, is a great choice for this planting, along with red angel wing begonia. An interesting addition is the tropical bird of paradise plants scattered about. When their exotic blooms have faded, many of the buds have another flower that can be teased out to prolong the bloom period. There are some tall plants, like these striped canna, with their beautiful orange flowers, and this large Siam Ruby banana plant with its red leaves with bronze and chartreuse blotches. But in this bed, there is actually an even taller feature plant, these crape myrtles, with their large fluffy flower heads. These are examples of how layers of short, medium, and large plants can be used in home planting beds. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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