There is a wide range of colour and form in sunflowers these days; from palest yellow to darkest red, branching or single stem, miniature to towering. Sunflowers prefer to be direct seeded and need full sun. Try varieties like strawberry blonde, Moulin Rouge, lemon queen and Russian mammoth.
Cosmos can be started indoors or out. The prefer a poor soil condition, so you can plant these without adding compost and fertilizer — they’ll thank you with more blooms! Pinch at about 30cm tall, taking off the top few sets of leaves and they will branch to create fuller plants.
Zinnias prefer a rich soil, so don’t skip the compost. They are not fans of cool weather, so plant them after the weather has warmed. Be sure to deadhead the plants (snip off any finished blooms) and they will keep on sending up new flowers.
This is a sweet, daisy-shaped flower which also has the bonus of being edible. Sow the seeds outside in spring, as they don’t mind some cool weather. They will self seed easily for years to come.
Nasturtiums are an easy and beautiful plant to grow. They like to be direct seeded in the garden in poor soil, so you can skip the compost and fertilizer. They grow in two forms — a compact mound, or as a trailing vine which will sprawl out of window boxes, down retaining walls or across the ground. The pretty round leaves and the tropical-looking flowers are all edible.
6. Morning glory
Morning glories are climbing vines which can be trained on a fence, fishing line or string to grow up fire escapes, balconies or anywhere you want a little beauty. The seeds need to be soaked for 24 hours before sowing, and can be started indoors to get a jump on the season.
Marigolds are a great plant for beginners. They are easy to start from seed, and although they need full sun, they will do well in a variety of soil conditions. Start indoors to get a head start on the season.
Leafy greens are best grown from seed, and arugula is a delicious, hardy choice. Sow seeds directly in the garden in early spring. The plant will bolt in the hot weather, but the flowers it produces are also beautiful and edible.
9. Salad mix
Many seed mixes of salad greens are available (often called mesclun) and are easy to grow and harvest for an instant salad. With enough sun and water, they can be harvested after reaching 10-15 centimeters by trimming the whole plant down to about 2 centimeters from the base. It will grow two or three times more to provide salad over the next few weeks.
10. Snap pea
Snap peas are a great early crop to grow by direct seeding when the weather is still cool in early spring (but be sure the ground isn’t soggy). Soak the seeds in water overnight before planting. Provide a trellis or netting for them to climb on and keep them well watered. Enjoy picking eating peas right out of the garden!