Suitable annuals to try
Hardy annuals requiring no protection
These hardy annuals may require protection in northern parts of the UK, or even in southern parts if winter is harsh. Keep an eye on the weather, and if hard frosts are forecast, protect sowings with cloches or horticultural fleece.
Ammi majus (bishop's weed): Creamy white lace-like flowers in summer and ferny foliage. Height 30-90cm (1-3ft) and spacing 30-40cm (1ft-16in).
Briza maxima (quaking grass): With creamy-white shimmering spikelets, ideal for dried arrangements. Height 60cm (2ft) and spacing 30cm (1ft).
Calendula officinalis (pot marigold): Slightly aromatic leaves and single or double daisy-like flowers in shades of orange or yellow flowers from summer to autumn. Height 45-60cm (18in-2ft) and spacing 30-37cm (1ft-15in). Centaurea cyanus (cornflower): Dark blue daisy-like flowers from late spring to mid-summer. Height 30-90cm (1-3ft) and spacing 23-45cm (9-18in).
Consolida (larkspur): Delphinium-like spikes of flowers in shades of pink, blue or white. Height 45cm-1.2m (18in-4ft) and spacing 30-45cm (1ft-18in).
Linum grandiflorum (flax): Saucer-shaped rose-pink flowers with dark eyes in summer. Height 30-45cm (1ft-18in) and spacing 10-15cm (4-6in).
Hordeum jubatum (squirrel tail grass): Long silky tufted flowers on grassy stems from early to mid-summer. Height 60cm (2ft) and spacing 30cm (1ft).
Nigella damascena (love-in-a-mist): Saucer-shaped pale blue flowers surrounded by a ruff of ferny foliage. Seedheads make excellent dried arrangements. Height 30-45cm (1ft-18in) and spacing 15-20cm (6-8in).
Lunaria annua (honesty): White or pale purple flowers in late spring and summer followed by flat, round, silvery seedpods. Height 90cm (3ft) and spacing 20-30cm (8in-1ft).
Papaver somniferum (opium poppy): Single or double flowers in shades of deepest purple, lilac, pink and white, some are blotched at the base. Self seeds easily. Height 45-90cm (18in-3ft) and spacing 25-45cm (10-18in).
P. rhoeas (Shirley poppy): Single flowers have a white base and come in shades of scarlet, pink and white. Height 45-90cm (18in-3ft) and spacing 25-45cm (10-18in).
P. commutatum (ladybird poppy): Scarlet flowers have central black ladybird-like blotches. Self seeds readily. Height 45-90cm (18in-3ft) and spacing 25-45cm (10-18in).
Hardy annuals needing some protection
These hardy annuals will need some protection from frosts, even in milder parts of the UK. Cloches and horticultural fleece should do the job. In colder parts of the country, consider sowing these in pots under glass.
Adonis aestivalis: Ferny foliage and cup-shaped red flowers with dark centres in mid-summer. Height 40cm (16in) and spacing 15-30cm (6in-1ft).
Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens': Deep purple bell-shaped flowers held in a cluster of dark blue bracts in summer; blue-green foliage. Height 60cm (2ft) and spacing 30cm (1ft).
Eschscholzia californica (California poppy): Ferny foliage and cup-shaped flowers of yellow, orange, red or white in spring or summer. Height 15-30cm (6in-1ft) and spacing 20-25cm (8-10in).
Nemophila menziesii (baby blue eyes): Saucer-shaped white or blue flowers in summer, with blue spots on the tips of the petals. Height 15-30cm (6in-1ft) and spacing 15-20cm (6-8in).
Lathyrus odoratus (sweet pea): Fragrant climber with flowers in most colours except yellow from summer to early autumn; best sown in pots. Height 30cm-2.5m (1-8ft) and spacing 20-37cm (8-15in).
Linaria moroccana Fairy Bouquet Group (toadflax): Small, snapdragon-like flowers in pastel shades. Height 15-30cm (6in-1ft) and spacing 7-10cm (3-4in).