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Mass Mounds

The Sunken Garden in Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia (David Herrera / Flickr).

Sometimes in a large space we need massed plantings in the foreground with low-growing shapes to complement rather than distract from the panoramic views beyond.

It is important not to make the closest plantings too busy. So, we should select just a few plants rather than choosing a lot of different varieties, shapes, and textures. Well chosen, organized massed plantings draw the eye to them but have a calming effect.

It is also important to choose plants that look natural in the location rather than ones that seem formal or contrived.

The principal of repetition is also important in creating unity.

Mass can be created by a few large plants placed together, or a grouping of many similar medium-sized plants used to form a block of color, density, and form. Correct proportion is critical and dictates the size of the massed plantings in relation to the space.

Japanese maples can create a variety of rounded shapes, and ‘Sky Pencil' holly can give us tall exclamation points.

If deer are a problem, use cypress, spruce, and juniper evergreens. They come in varied sizes and colors. Intersperse these evergreens with grasses and perennials such as Rudbeckia, sedum, or salvia, or with annuals such as cannas, castor bean, or cleome.

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