The backbone of the shade gardener’s summer display has been Impatiens for as long as I’ve been gardening (which is longer than I’ll post in a public forum. But that long starring role has come to an abrupt halt this year (2012) due to the infamous, Downy mildew fungal like disease caused by the pathogen, Plasmopara obducens. The symptoms caused millions of gardeners to drag out their hoses in attempts to combat the disease, which mimicked the appearance of water starved plants.
This tremendous shake-up in the Horticultural industry has growers, breeders and chemists scrambling for solutions and workarounds. It isaffecting this billion dollar industry in big and small ways at a time when our economy is struggling. The gardener goes to the nursery to place part of their closely budgeted money to bring a season of color and happiness to their home. The nursery is in a seasonally based business & feels the pressure of cultivating new customers into the Art of gardening as well as taking care of their established base of avid buyers.
Under competitive pressure these nurseries offer their customers plant warranties. It boggles the mind how a seasonal small business would be able to sustain themselves when a calamity like the collapse of the stalwart impatiens plants would affect their bottom line once the warranties start rolling in.
One of the largest growers and breeders of Impatiens is right here on Long Island. Ivy Acres, located in Baiting Hollow, supplies a customer base not only on Long Island but also in New Jersey, Westchester County & Southwestern CT. They are the suppliers to the wholesale nurseries, so the chain of businesses affected continues up the chain of distribution.
What does that mean for us, the local gardener? What that means is that there is immense pressure to bring to market disease resistant replacements for the annual market geared to shade tolerant plants. For the next few years we will be seeing a tremendous array of new opportunities and options as replacement plants are introduced into the Horticultural market stream.
According to Mark Viette on his Sunday morning WOR radio show some suggested replacements for our dearly departed Impatiens walleriana at the moment are:
- New Guinea Impatiens