Monday, September 9, 2013

Killer Impatiens

Impatiens have to be the most boring-but-colorful bedding plants. They are ubiquitous because they are cheap and sturdy, and get the job done. If you've ever gardened, you know the drill: buy lots of flats in colors you like, space the plants several inches apart, water. By mid-summer you'll have a fat, vibrant patch that's filled all the space you left between the plants. By September your plants will be even bigger — a foot tall, maybe more.

Impatiens flourish, but you do not usually get this, spotted on Commonwealth Avenue (sunny side) between Dartmouth and Exeter Streets:

I've never seen impatiens like this except in California, and I've seen lots of impatiens — we all have. Would you call this a border, or is it a hedge? 

For the record, these are New Guinea impatiens, not the regular ones, Impatiens walleriana. But for any kind of impatiens, this is outrageous success.

I remember reading in the New York Times last spring about how "downy mildew" was going to destroy all the Impatiens walleriana (only the basic variety, not the New Guineas) around the country this year, predicted to hit the East Coast by about June or July. So if you see any of the ordinary impatiens around, consider yourself lucky (and check the backs of the blooms for signs of white mildew).

There may well come a day when we're really excited to see those boring old borders after all. And  be sure to check out the show on Comm. Ave.

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