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You can make a seed bed in the ground and then transplant or thin, but this only really works for hardy annuals. Sowing in a tray in a propagator means that the seedlings are less likely to be eaten by slugs, scratched up by cats, pulled up by birds etc. Also half hardy or tender annuals need to have more heat to germinate and be protected from frost.
This might be of help http://www.sarahraven.com/shop/seeds/flower-seeds.html