Magazine article Sunset

Flower Discoveries

Magazine article Sunset

Flower Discoveries

Article excerpt

Mauve poppies? Rosy red forget-me-nots? Grow such offbeat treasures from seed

WHY GROW ANNUALS FROM seed? There are at least a dozen practical reasons. Saving money, for instance. Seed packets may not be the bargain they were a few years ago, but they're still cheaper than planting from sixpacks. Another reason is hardier plants. Annuals from seed are typically stronger, taller, and more productive than transplants. Seeds also offer more options in flower colors. Shirley poppy seedlings, for example, are usually sold in mixed colors in nurseries, but perhaps you would rather have them exclusively in shades of pink. Enjoying blooms earlier than your neighbors is another advantage. Sow seeds at the optimum timeright now in most areas-and you'll have flowers well before gardeners who wait to plant from sixpacks.

But the best reason to grow annuals from seed is really for the sheer joy of discovery. Flowers you won't commonly see in nurseries unfurl like little miracleswith unusual colors, shapes, and markings. They're the kind of flowers that make visitors to your garden exclaim, "Wow, I've never seen that before. What is it?"

Seeds of unusual varieties are presents that unwrap themselves and shout, "Surprise!" And it's as true on your hundredth sowing as it is on your first.

Give yourself some presents this year. We did. We combed through seed catalogs, ordered every variety that struck our fancy, and tried them all out in our test garden. The surprises we liked best are listed below.

All grow well in beds and borders. Sow seeds in weed-free soil that's been well amended with organic matter such as compost, then raked smooth. Follow directions on package labels.


Initials after each listing indicate seed sources (listed below).

1. African daisy (Arctotis hybrid) `Zulu Prince'. Spectacular daisy-petaled flower reminiscent of an exotic feather necklace. …

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