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In borders, in paving tiny tuck-ins.

In borders, in paving . . . tiny tuck-ins

When your garden has the post-winter blahs, tiny tuck-in plants come to the rescue, filling gaps with a filigree of flowers. They can bind borders together, fill bald spots in still-young plantings, or add a wisp of color around tree trunks, lawns, patios, paths, or in pots. Here we list some of the most popular and reliable tuck-ins.

These fast growers give almost instant results even seeds usually flower within 1 1/2 to 2 months. You can start them in place in beds where you want them to grow, or in containers for transplanting later. Or buy nursery seedlings.

Space plants 5 to 8 inches apart in good garden soil in full sun; or inland, in filtered shade to prolong bloom. Most of these are cool-season annuals that will wither away when weather gets hot. Near the coast they often continue through summer or return from self-sown volunteers whenever weather is mild.

Tuck-in flowers to plant now

Sweet alyssum. Masses of these tiny white flowers give off a sweet honey scent. The whites are most versatile; purple and rose shades often clash with other colors. Named varieties form dense mats 2 to 6 inches tall. For successive bloom, cut plants back as they become shaggy. As they self-sow, seedlings usually become taller and less dense.

Chrysanthemum multicaule. Inch-wide golden daisies hover 6 inches above a tufted mat of green foliage that spreads 6 to 8 inches across. A little less vigorous than others listed here, these annuals rarely self-sow. Slugs have a nasty habit of biting through the slender stems; bait regularly to control them.

C. Paludosum. Like minature margucrites, inch-wide white daisies cover little bushes that start to bloom when 5 inches tall, maturing to about 10 inches tall and wide. This taller annual combines especially well with lobelia.

Lobelia. Lacy flowers 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide come in pale to twilight blue, magenta, or pure white. Compact forms 4 to 8 inches high make a tidy edging, including "Blue Stone' (medium blue), "Bright Eyes' (violet blue, white eye), "Combridge Blue' (light blue), "Crystal Palace' (dark blue flowers, bronze-green leaves), "Heavenly Rosamond' (rosy red, white eye), and "White Lady'.

Varieties that trail 8 to 12 inches are graceful in hanging baskets or along edges of raised beds, retaining walls, or window boxes. These include "Blue Cascade', "Red Cascade', and "Sapphire' (deep blue with a white eye).

Clip straggly plants back within a few inches of the ground for repeat bloom.

Signet marigolds. Tiny, lacy-looking flowers an inch wide cover 8- to 12-inch mounds of fern-like leaves. Plants are available but not common; you can buy seeds from W. Atlee Burpee Co., Warminster, Pa. 18991. Flowers come in yellow ("Lemon Gem'), orange ("Little Giant', "Golden Gem'), and sometimes rust ("Paprika').

Other dwarf marigolds. Most other dwarf marigolds also serve well as edgers and gap-fillers.

Dwarf French double marigolds, 6 to 10 inches tall, are most prolific during cool spring and fall weather; inland, they slow down during summer heat. The Petite series has flowers 1 1/2 inches wide; the Boy and Bonanza series are about 1/2 inch larger. Flowers of both series are often domed or crested in the center.

Dwarf French single marigolds include foot-tall Mariettas with broad yellow petals blotched maroon. "Cinnabar' is the reverse, with maroon petals edged in gold.

Triploids are exceptionally heat tolerant and tend to be self-cleaning. The Nugget series is 8 inches tall with 2-inch, carnation-like flowers in gold to maroon. Foot-tall "Encore' has broad, yellow petals circling a tight, fine-textured center.

Photo: Twin ribbons of white sweet alyssum unify this border, smoothing transitions between plants of many colors, textures, and shapes

Photo: Filling the spaces between brick pavers, "Naughty Marietta' dwarf French marigolds show off all summer
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Mar 1, 1984
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