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Looking for flowers 3 feet and taller? Here are perennials and biennials that tower.

Flowers that tower-blooms unfurling on single or branching spikes 3 or more feet tall can add drama and dimension to the garden. Pictured here are four ways to go. In the low-elevation West, plant now for bloom beginning next spring.

Choose plants to create the effect you prefer. Ones with lean, upward growth can be tucked into narrow beds or planted in rows as screens. Use a plant with multiple flower stalks as an exclamation point to accent an entry or gate.

In mixed flower beds and borders, tall flowers offer visual interest. Towering white Watsonia pyramidata and blue Giant Pacific delphiniums add depth and height to the perennial border pictured at left, behind lower growers. Kangaroo paws, with striking tubular yellow, red, or green flowers atop 4- to 6-foot stems is a good choice for a sunny, unthirsty garden.

You can also try varieties of the same plant that reach different heights-Giant Pacific delphiniums behind shorter Blue Fountains delphiniums, for instance.

For greatest visual impact in mixed plantings, cluster at least three plants of the same type (using fewer of each type can give a border a jumbled look).

Massed in garden beds. A massed planting of one type of towering plant, like the foxgloves at right, creates a repetitive vertical pattern that can be a show stopper in the garden. Other choices include bell-flowers (Campanula lactiflora and C medium), border penstemon, common foxglove Digitalis purpurea), delphiniums, and hollyhocks.

Some other towers like Acanthus mollis, monbretia (Crocosmia crocosmiiflora), obedience plant (Physostegia virginiana) can become invasive, but because of their spreading habit they may be useful in contained areas or outlying areas of the garden where they won't compete with other plants.

Singly, as accents. A single tall plant with bold flower spikes brings seasonal surprise to the Montecito garden pictured at top right. Perennial hybrid Verbascum displays vibrant blooms for about a month in early summer, above yellow santolina.

Other strong accents include pride of Madeira (Echium fastuosum), whose lavender flowers combine handsomely with sea lavender; tower of jewels (E. wildpretii); Verbascum bombyciferum; and V olympicum. Tower of jewels and V bombyciferum are biennial.

Floral screen. The hollyhocks in the garden above grow to 9 feet. They make a colorful screen when planted against a wall, at the back of a border, or to define an area of the garden.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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