Mon 29 Sep, 2003 04:57 pm
Claude Hope and the Impatiens
Claude Hope, the man from Costa Rica who discovered
what came to be known as the "Impatiens" plant, died in 2000 at age 93.
What would the shady areas of our gardens be like without the easy to grow, beautiful, colorful and ubiquitus impatiens?
Hope discovered the lankier forebearer of the shade-loving, bloom-
abundant garden staple in the wilds of Costa Rica in the 1940s, when he was posted there by the U.S. Army. He took the large, weed-like plant and developed the dwarf version, Elfin,which is the parent of all the varieties that followed and spread around the world.
I live on an island in Florida, but have many trees on
my property and there is simply NOTHING
that grows so well in the shade as Impatiens.
My sister 'n law lives in PA and could never get them to
grow. Little wonder - because their dirt has so much clay
in it - yet she can grow gorgeous plants that can't survive
here. I did help her with a plan to have impatiens all
around her trees though. We just purchased some rather
small but wide containers and we used 1/3 potting soil
mixed with 2/3 peat moss and simply placed them around
the trees in a circular array - then used mulch to finish the
job, and hide the containers. She was so happy to have
impatiens growing in her yard - none of her neighbors knew
what the secret was. One of the things that I love about
impatiens is the way they re-seed themselves. I have a
little greenhouse where I put many of my plants up for the
winter (short as it is)and by the spring - I have impatiens
popping up all over the place, in the soil on the floor of
the greenhouse, in other containers alongside with other
plants. They proliferate wonderfully. A shade plant that
has so much color is hard to find. - coleus is another good
shade plant that I'm very fond of. Fortunately for me, I am
only about a mile from the beach - so we have very light
sandy soil. We have a large number of beautiful flowers
and flowering shrubs that grow here easily, with surprisingly
little effort. There are some really tough ones though.
Particularly the roses. Roses tend to get black spot due to
the humidity and the fertilizer won't stay in the soil - one good
rain and it's washed out. But I keep trying.
**Anyone with good tips on growing roses in Florida, drop
me a private message. I've been trying and struggling for
years and years. This year I have them in containers with
mostly potting soil & I feed them often, spray for bugs often
but can't get rid of that black spot problem. I adore the
roses that are fragrant - the kind that you cut a few and
when you bring them in the house - the fragrance fills the
babs...look for the "old roses" at your nursery...sometimes called "heirloom roses." They have the heady fragrance you describe, and they're usually more resistant to black spot, etc. than the new, over-hybridized tea roses you usually find. Only thing is, you won't get the 5" blooms, but you'll get a lot of smaller ones. Are you using a time release fertilizer on them? It sure lasts longer. And be sure you water & spray in the mornings so the leaves dry out quickly with the sun. (I lost all the foliage on mine to black spot early this year before I found out my husband had the sprinklers set to go on at midnight. Grrrrrr.)
Also...on the impatiens...they LOVE fertilizer. Add manure or, better yet, a one-dose time release fertilizer (like Osmocote) when you plant them. (It's easier.) Impatiens are my favorites, too.