GOODBYE CRAYOLA CUTIES If your shady bed of hot-coloured Impatiens suddenly collapsed last spring, you probably encountered a case of Impatiens Downy Mildew, a pathogen that can attack the plant very quickly and leave an entire bed looking devastated. The disease has now struck Ontario, Quebec and parts of B.C. and may affect gardens in the future since it can overwinter in the soil. In the 2014 Spring edition of Trillium, the newsletter for the Ontario Horticultural Association, OHA President James Graham called out the problem, stating “…we are likely to see fewer impatiens for sale; since the disease affecting them has become very prevalent…” So what are Southern Ontario garden centres going to do this spring without this cheap ‘n’ cheerful annual crowding shelves with their crayon-bright flowers? Impatiens walleriana was an easy and affordable option for turning a drab border or a shady corner of the garden into a brilliant swath of colour. Peter Cantley, VP Floral and Garden at Loblaw Companies Limited, said he’s been looking into some exciting alternatives.
HELLO, SEXY LEAVES Rethink what you know about flowers and colour for a part shade or shady garden this spring. Where once you might have planted Impatiens, Peter recommended Rex Begonias. They’re all about foliage. But these plants have leaves in shapes and colours so unique, noted Peter, they make an eye-catching substitute for blooms. A mass planting of Rex Begonias would transform a shady area into a highlight of the garden. For instance, Rex begonia ‘Shadow King Cool White’ (shown above) “just glows'” he said.
Here are some more easy-to-grow plants for part-shade to shade where once you may have planted Impatiens: