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Drop what you're doing today and pick up some packets of annual flower seeds from a garden center. Sow them among perennial plants, in front of shrubbery, in pots and in spots you want to liven up anywhere in your yard.

What you'll be doing used to be the norm among gardeners. But, in today's world of wanting instant this or that, it has been lost.

Don't get me wrong. Planting a mess of ready-grown seedlings--some already in flower--gets a garden off to an early start. I assume you've already done that.

But now's the time to "bump up the beauty" and bump up your enjoyment of gardening in a way you might not have thought of.

Look at the advantages of direct-seeding:

  1. You get to try new annuals just to see what they look like

  2. You get to fill in dull spaces cheaply

  3. Annuals you plant now will come into bloom in late summer when your spring-planted plants are looking dowdy and scraggly and you're tired of looking at them anyway

  4. By planting different annuals in different pots, you can move them around for spots of color anywhere in the garden or on patios or decks

  5. It's educational and fun. You get to see new shapes and sizes of seeds and you get to raise them as babies, seeing exactly how quickly they emerge and watching them grow to maturity.

  6. It's so inexpensive. After starting some seeds yourself, you may decide this is the method you'll use next year--such as starting seedlings under lights in the house a month before transplanting outdoors.

Remember that annuals grow quickly. That's what they're genetically predisposed to do--to grow quickly and produce seeds before cold weather arrives. So you're not going to have to wait forever for your seeds to produce flowers.

Maybe you have a hankeriing to produce a wildflower meadow. Now's your chance to buy a packet of seeds and experiment in a mini-meadow way. That will prepare you for next year.

And, while you're picking up annual flowers, think about buying some pole beans to grow up other tall established lilies or sunflowers in your garden. Or even plunk in some seeds for flowering vines amongst shrubbery or other tall plants for a riot of color and interest later in the season.

Yes, direct-seeding may be a lost art--but one you can rekindle quickly by browsing through seed racks and bringing home a bundle of surprises. Enjoy!

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