Friday, March 27, 2015

Impatiens 2015 -- Balsam Blight Update

Is it safe to plant impatiens or balsam in 2015? Are busy lizzies disease free this year? Are touch-me-nots still untouchable? 

It seems the moratorium should nearly be over.  The blight was expected to remain viable for at least three years, so some experimental plantings might prove benign in drier beds.  It would be prudent to plant in limited quantities to avoid re-infection.

Impatiens downy mildew likely began not in the home garden, but the greenhouse.  Still, once the affliction traveled home in flats, spores may have spread to the soil, then overwintered.

Consider the local climate.  Arid or moderate climates are a safer bet.  In areas like the Midwest, heavy snows and wet summers have caused all sorts of molds and spores to thrive.

Purchase flats from an established nursery even if it costs a
In 2017 Impatiens are still  not a "sure bet."
few dollars more.  Most garden sales outlets will guarantee or reimburse within a reasonable timeframe.  If the local flower shop isn't carrying busy lizzies yet, then rely on their research. 

Healthy impatiens are reliable, powerful in color, thrive in the shade and need no pinching back or tending.  Their presence has been missed in the
yard, but their absence caused shade gardeners to experiment with plants like begonia, coleus,
pansies, and new guineas. 

Diversity in nature minimizes the sweeping effects of disease and blight.

Whether or not the local experts have issued an "all clear" to the use of annual impatiens, a moderate mix with fellow shade lovers is best. 

This year there are two new mildew resistant strains, Bounce Pink Flame and SunPatiens Spreading Shell Pink.  Grown from cuttings rather than seeds, these youngsters were presumably bred in response to the downy blight. 

Postscript:  Impatiens downy mildew is still present.  In late summer and early fall of 2015 impatiens a/k/a bizzie lizzies again began to deteriorate after planting.  Sorry to report that impatiens are just not healthy enough to survive the duration of the season.  They're not recommended for the foreseeable future.  
2016 Impatiens Update ~~ The Blight is Back

More Articles of Interest:

Begonias are the New Impatiens

Coleus Revisited

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rehab Addict -- Detroit Style

Sometime around two in the morning my eyes pop open.  I listen to the soft snores of my husband and dog, yet sleep evades me.  After twenty minutes I eventually give in to my guilty pleasure-- On  Demand television

That's how I got hooked on Rehab Addict with spunky Nicole Curtis, a transplanted Michigander who unwittingly committed to the restoration of a neglected Tudor home inside the city limits of Detroit.  Having just renovated a Tudor north of the city limits, I took a special interest in Nicole's accidental project.

Snuggled in the spare room, I can watch whatever I chose..

Eventually pup Ralph sleepily joins me. 

Having blown through the complete inventory of Say Yes to the Dress, I stumbled upon Rehab Addict after my daughter spotted Nicole at the Detroit Metro Airport and told me about the show.

A single mom of a teenaged son, Curtis now calls Minneapolis home, but she commutes to Detroit frequently in order to spend time with family.  During one of those trips in the summer of 2014, Nicole found herself bidding on her phone for an empty home offered by the Detroit Land Bank. 

The DLB is an organization that has systemized the sale of abandoned homes inside the city limits of Detroit to a willing buyer who'll commit to improving the property within a specified period of time. 

About the size of a fifth grader, and equally as sassy, Curtis is a Jill of all trades when it comes to renovation--from digging ditches to scraping and painting exterior trim while perched cat-like on the roof. Hoping merely to help drive the price up, she unwittingly bought a nearly 3000 square foot English Tudor in the heart of the city. 

Partial to Englishmen and Tudors, I shared Nicole's goose bumps as she opened the front door for the first time, exposing a shabby, but elegant interior--just as I'd done two years before.

Bill and I spent a decade living in the midst of a progressive remodel of our first home--a white cape cod with black shutters.

Vowing never to live through construction again, we then fell in love with a hilltop Tudor which had been "renovated" in the eighties. 

No one should have renovated in the eighties.

We started all over again.

Moving in during a driving blizzard, we survived in one corner of the house for over a year.  Yet looking back, I wouldn't change one dusty moment.

Detroit is on the brink of its own reconstruction.  With Nicole's fervent belief in the city, the rest of the world is taking notice.

There's something special in this renaissance.  It feels different from past well-intentioned attempts.   

I'm uncomfortable with the interim fame of"ruin porn" addicts who photograph abandoned structures in the city through fancy filters for notoriety and profit.

Perhaps, with tiny Nicole's help, they'll run out of material and head elsewhere. 

Nicole's house is located at 571 East Grand Boulevard, near Belle Isle.  Word has it she may keep this one for herself. 

Take a drive past, toot a horn, or raise a fist.  Just don't interrupt Nicole.  She's busy working.

Each show ends with the reveal of a restored section of the gracious old home. Then Ralph and I head back to bed, visions of scaffolding dancing in our heads.

Rehab Addict is featured on HGTV.

Nicole's newest 2015 Detroit project is located in Brush Park, just north of Comerica Park.  For photos and background see Rehab Addict Brush Park Midtown Edition. articles:

Moving Day -- Transplanting Plants and People

To Hellebores and Back