Helianthus annuus 'Valentine'
A sunflower with subtlety and style, ‘Valentine’ has soft, creamy white rays that become a richer yellow shade close to the deep black centers. The 6-inch flowers are not too large—just right for the size of the plant. Sunflowers are easy to grow in a sunny place, though be sure to protect the young seedlings from slugs.
Height: 5 feet
This low and spreading California native tolerates wetter soil and a little more shade than most direct-sow annuals. The white-eyed, sky blue flowers open over a long season. Spent blooms usually drop seeds to produce more plants for the following year; it may even self-sow in cracks in shady paving.
Height: 8 inches
‘Miss Jekyll’ Love-in-a-Mist
Nigella damascena 'Miss Jekyll'
Justifiably one of the most popular of all direct-sow annuals, Nigella is a lovely plant from soon after germination until its seed heads dry in fall. Repeatedly divided leaves make an attractive rosette from which spring vertical stems carrying sky blue flowers followed by inflated seedpods. Both flowers and seed pods can be cut for bouquets.
Height: 18 inches
White Lace Flower
Lace flower combines well with other annuals and perennials and is bright and cheerful in its own right. Prettily divided foliage backs the large pure white heads that have small central florets surrounded by a ring of much larger ones—like a lacecap hydrangea. Good in dry soil, and a fine cut flower, too.
Height: 18 to 24 inches
‘Empress of India’ Nasturtium
Tropaeolum majus 'Empress of India'
A compact, bushy heirloom nasturtium from the 1800s, ‘Empress of India’ looks lovely planted in gravel or a small container. Its small, dark blue-green leaves make the perfect background for the sultry, deep scarlet flowers, which keep coming well into fall. Sow the large seeds after the last frost in your area. Best in full sun and soil that is not rich.
Height: 12 inches
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