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A few months, a few dollars, a lot of color.

Three months and seven dollars' worth of seeds are all it took to grow the billowy mounds of color pictured here. Plants chosen for this easy flower border are fast blooming, water thrifty, and sun loving. For similar quick results with minimal fuss and expense, plan early and choose plants wisely. We list 14 reliable growers that are fast to flower and require relatively little water; half are perennials that will give you a head start on next year's garden.

The border shown on the previous pages, grown in a mild-winter area of northern California, used both annuals and perennials for a color-laden show through summer and fall. The perennials--'Blue Queen' salvia, purple coneflower, and yarrow--bloom the first year when grown from seed. The next year they'll grow from the roots, forming a permanent portion of the landscape. Annuals included white brachy-come, bright yellow Dahlberg daisy, and rosy pink lavatera.

Start now by studying seed catalogs; some are listed at right. They provide plenty of information on when and how to start the seeds, and where


to plant. Many catalogs mark varieties that are especially easy to grow.

In mild-winter areas, start seeds indoors beginning late this month, or sow directly in the ground in March. In cold-winter climates, start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. When starting seeds indoors, be sure to provide plenty of light for healthy seedling development. Read directions on seed packets carefully; some plants prefer not to be transplanted.

Thorough soil preparation is essential to promote fast growth. Loosen soil to a depth of 12 inches, incorporating plenty of organic material such as compost, manure, or peat moss. Smooth the surface, then plant seeds. Do not allow the seeds to dry out.

For more information on planting seeds, see Garden Color: Annuals and Perennials (Sunset Publishing Corporation, Menlo Park, Calif., 1981; $7.95).

To get maximum bloom, mulch the bed, water as needed, fertilize monthly, and pick off dead flowers.

Seed catalogs with good selections include W. Atlee Burpee & Co., 300 Park Ave., Warminster, Pa. 18974; Thompson & Morgan, Box 1308, Jackson, N.J. 08527; Park Seed Co., Cokesbury Rd., Greenwood, S.C. 29647.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:gardening
Author:Lincowski, Emely
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Previous Article:Central west garden guide.
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