Blighted Impatiens, Dead Wheelbarrows, and Partridge Peas

So here is a bit of garden miscellany for today. Those of you who grumble that I never show the seamy underside of my garden should appreciate this post.

First off, I have been blithely ignoring the Heartbreak of Impatiens Blight ever since news of this scourge spread to these parts. And for years, everything was fine. I thought the Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) and I could lead a charmed life, safe from the devastation around us.

Impatiens in a window box: After the blight.

Oh, what fools we were. In any case, the blight found us, as I knew it would eventually. For the foreseeable future, it’s no more Impatiens (or Busy Lizzies, if you prefer) for me.

Plants that I have found to be acceptable substitutes include Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima), Annual Lobelia (Lobelia erinus), New Guinea Impatiens (I. hawkeri), Bacopa (Sutera cordata), and Parsley (Petroselinum crispum).

Another sad development is the recent demise of our wheelbarrow planter. This is a rusted out wheelbarrow inherited from the last owners of the house. I’ve been using it as a planter for years and years. Finally, though, I recognized that there were too many holes eaten through the bottom. It was bound to happen eventually.

The Wheeldbarrow Planter in its final moments. Looks dreadful, doesn’t it? Of course, the blighted Impatiens don’t help.

Now we have to think about what to get as a replacement (or if there should be any replacement at all). I like the idea of looking at yard sales for a little red wagon like my kids used to have. A bit shallow for a planter, perhaps, but maybe not. Judy’s been thinking of an urn of some kind, but that seems too formal for our garden.

Partridge Pea

Finally, on a more positive note, I’m glad to say that at least a few of the Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) seeds that I planted last fall have germinated and are now flowering. Partridge Pea is a native self-sowing annual. They’re also a host plant for a number of Sulphur Butterfly species.

I suspect that the Partridge Peas are going to need some help if they are to make a place for themselves in the Parkway Bed where they have been sown. They share the beds with a number of very aggressive neighbors, including several Viola and Rudbeckia species. Most likely I will have to keep sowing them every fall and also remove some of the larger competing plants.

That’s all for now.



34 Comments on “Blighted Impatiens, Dead Wheelbarrows, and Partridge Peas”

  1. Sorry that Impatiens Blight finally found your garden and will miss your wheelbarrow planter. The optimistic among us would think of these as opportunities for change. I’m surprised that Judy isn’t thinking that the wheelbarrow space might be a perfect spot for a chicken coop.

  2. The impatiens blight found me two seasons ago but then I discovered begonias and haven’t looked back. Sorry about the wheelbarrow. I found an old wagon at an auction a long time and, of course, packed it full of plants but I have a feeling it’s day is coming as well. I’m thinking about replacing it with an old metal trough that’s been sitting in our field.

  3. I would be upset if I lost my impatiens, too. I don’t have them every year, but this year I bought the bright red ones, my favorite. I like your possible substitutes; I never heard of bacopa, but I googled it, and it’s lovely. Maybe it’s in my local plant stores and I don’t know it. If you find a red wagon, instead of planting directly in the wagon, you could use several matching pots of a single annual, pots and flowers in colors that coordinate with the wagon color. As the blonde gardener said, begonias are another possible substitute for you.

  4. Oh, my! We had an impatient blight in Maine a couple of years ago. It seems to have passed. We, too, have gone with begonias. While they are not my favorite flower, they do bloom their hearts out and last the whole season without looking leggy and needing to be replaced. For a gardener on a tight budget, this is a blessing indeed.

  5. I’m so sorry about your impatiens, Jason. I haven’t had a problem yet with mine, fingers crossed, though I know many in our area have. It’s funny you mention the wheelbarrow: this year my husband rescued an old wheelbarrow set out for the trash by my neighbor, knowing I would want to use it as a planter. I filled it with Wave petunias and a few other plants, but the petunias kept dying, while everything else was fine. After replacing the petunias with more petunias about three times, I’ve given up! I have no idea why they didn’t survive, but I’m making a note to use something else next year. I could do a whole post about the failures in my garden:)

  6. A garage sale or thrift store is a perfect place to find a wheelbarrow replacement. I agree with you that an urn is too formal for your garden. Sorry about the Impatiens, but my experience with them has always been that they are such water hogs. Above someone suggested Begonias, which I prefer too.

    • I was hoping for an informal urn. Not sure what that would look like, but I’ll know it when I see it. I’m attracted to those giant heads where plants grow in place of hair. The best would be a giant rooster with plants forming the tail – though I guess that would look a bit odd when there were no plants- which is a lot of months in Chicago. πŸ™‚

  7. Shame about the Impatiens; they’re been a no-go plant in the UK for a while. Mostly due to the bad hygiene in the Dutch nurseries where the vast majority are produced. I have them here in pots on the terrace as they like the shade, so far so good!

  8. What a pity to be hit by the Impatiens blight, I’ll have to check and see if it has crossed the seas to Australia. We had a wheelbarrow just like yours for many years, it is surprising how many neighbours still remember it…mostly filled with pansies in the spring.

  9. For year after year there was an area under the trees in my back garden that were home to a couple of flats of impatiens. Each year a different colour and they were a staple of that area. Then the blight. So I haven’t had them, or substitutes for about seven years. Sorry to hear the blight has caught up with you.

  10. Like others, I didn’t know their was an impatiens blight. I grew them last year, but not this year. Bummer for you! My little red wagon came from a Good Will, and I’ve seen them at other thrift stores sold for not much. You could also consider a big wash tub or another used wheelbarrow.

  11. Shame about your little wheelbarrow… I love unusual containers for plants, but have never found anything suitable for my own garden. Something will turn up when you are not looking for it! (I’ve always fancied an old tin bathtub!)

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