a red dahlia
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Kay's Standout Annuals

She does need to cut back spent plants periodically, of course, but she's found that if she does a little each evening, usually less than an hour, her yard never gets out of control. "When I go home at night, that's what I do to relax," says Kay, who now runs the family collision-repair business on her own during the day. "I go out and smell the flowers. It's a lot more fun than fighting with insurance companies."

Here are the annuals that pump out new blooms until frost without plants becoming ungainly or too leggy.

Dahlia (Dahlia pinnata)
Available in many colors, this sturdy, small-headed annual is easily grown from seed. It doesn't require the stout staking and overwintering of dug-up tubers that larger garden dahlias require. Grows 6 to 18 inches tall. Full sun.

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