Do you remember Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)? It used to be my number one plant for filling containers all over the shady Back Garden, providing bountiful and vibrant color from May to September. Starting around 2011, though, the scourge of Impatiens Downy Mildew (IDM), caused gardeners everywhere to turn their backs on the stricken plants.
While visiting the Gardens at Ball on the grounds of Ball Horticultural in suburban Chicago, Judy and I were very excited to learn about Beacon Impatiens. Beacon varieties are highly resistant to IDM, as demonstrated by their generous use in the beds, baskets, and containers all around us. (I’ll write another post about what else we saw, but for us this was the highlight).
As I learned to my horror years ago, IDM will devastate plantings of Impatiens in a very short time. Plants just wither away to nothing. However, through a selective breeding program carried out in Illinois and the Netherlands, breeders have developed varieties that thrive as older cultivars shrivel. Tests in gardens around the world confirmed the results.
Beacon Impatiens should be generally available this coming spring. There are varieties in half a dozen colors, including white, which is my favorite.
Impatiens used to be so commonly planted that some people got snooty about them. However, I won’t be embarrassed about my affection for this plant. It provides a lot of color easily and (I’ll go ahead and say it) cheaply. Plus, it’s popular with hummingbirds, especially the red ones.
I, for one, look forward to reintroducing this plant into my shady garden. How about you?
Oh, and one more thing! I keep forgetting to mention this. I am now on Instagram as jasonkay3490. Most days I post pictures of flowers, gardens, pollinators, and related stuff. One of these days I’ll figure out how to put a follow button on this blog.