No-work flowers

Are you tired of playing nursemaid to baby flowers, seedlings that each year you plant in containers, carefully nurture, then plant out in the garden once the weather settles? All this work and planning is unnecessary with flowers that self-sow, replanting themselves from seed every year. Count among self-sowers some annual, biennial and perennial flowers.

One good self-sowing flower, twinkling up at you each spring with its starry, white-eyed, blue flowers, is forget-me-not (pictured). Nurture and plant it once, and a new crop of seedlings appears each spring - reliably and without your helping hand. Shirley poppies are another self-sower, unfolding papery, cardinal-red flowers each spring.

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Gardening tips

Here are some activities that you can do in your garden now:

n Move tropical houseplants outside to decks and patios. Give them the chance to acclimatize in a protected location for a week or so. Plant annuals for summer color, and vegetables for nourishment. Net blueberries as they ripen to protect them from birds. Rejuvenate strawberry plants after harvesting with general purpose, water-soluble fertilizers consisting of a 5-10-5 analysis.

n Install annuals with slow-release fertilizer with about a 10-6-4 analysis. June is a good time to lay one inch of compost (pictured) around all plantings for nutrition. Mulch has the longest aesthetic impact when spread as a veneer .

n Use common sense to determine when plants need water. Stick your finger into the soil to make sure surface roots are moist.

Some easy steps

Here are some tips from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" designer Michael Moloney, who says small changes can make a big impact in your home.

n Spruce up your space with an accent color. Choose one accent color and carry that throughout the room to bring the style elements of your home together.

n A little lighting can go a long way. Well-thought-out and well-placed lighting can really transform the entire look and feel of the space. Also, never underestimate candlelight (pictured). It can create a warm, welcoming environment instantly no matter what time of year.

n Form and function are key. Current home design trends are all about form and function, and this not only applies to home decor but also for the products in your home.

Smart growth

A Latin fusion restaurant in Brooklyn, N.Y., called Barrio grows varieties of mint in its storefront windows. The mint is used in everything from mojitos and specialty cocktails to desserts. "We wanted to do something different," said owner Spencer Rothschild, "but we also wanted it be useful."

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