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Dazzling border in tight space.

IN SPRING, BOB AND Joan Morrill's front garden near Three Arch Bay, California, is edged with a traffic-stopping tapestry of dazzling blooms. From the street, it appears as a wide, gently sloping border. But in reality, the border is made up of two 1 1/2-foot-wide planting beds on two different levels, with a broken-concrete retaining wall between them.

To pack a lot of bloom into this awkward space, Laguna Beach designer Scott Wright offers these guidelines:

Start with perennials and shrubs. Climbing roses are trained along the lower-level fence. Trailing rosemary, ivy geraniums, and dusty miller form the backbone on the top tier and help conceal the retaining wall.

Amend the soil; plant close. Before filling in with other plants in fall, Wright works in chicken manure and packaged planting mix to a depth of 1 1/2 feet. He plants most of the annuals 4 inches apart, from pony packs.

Plant "peaks and valleys." Wright arranges tall-flowered plants such as the blue and white larkspurs in clusters of three or four, with bulbs (ranunculus, Dutch iris) and low annuals between.

Encourage plants to drape. Sweet peas in the upper bed drape over the lower fence, "scramble every which way."

Fill in with self-sowers. "I like plants that take care of themselves," Wright says. Plants such as Johnny-jump-up and sweet alyssum reseed readily.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:gardening
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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