Planted ’em anyway


Take it from a gardener whose entire front “yard” is 100% dry shade for the entire summer; you don’t relinquish a reliable source of continuous color without a fight. So when the local botanical gardens offered some old-fashioned semi-double impatiens through their annual plant sale, I ordered a few six-packs for in-ground and containers (below) They later sent an email to all of us saying that the grower was confident these plants would be fine, but we could get a refund if we didn’t want to risk it. I risked it. So, apparently, did my friend Martin, who I visited in Atlanta a couple weeks back (his garden above). Martin has a mainly easy-care green garden these days; I think the impatiens is the only flowering annual he uses. He had not heard of the mildew.

It won’t be a huge problem if these fail, as our local nurseries have finally learned that we plant all summer long—I’ll have plenty of replacements to choose from. In fact, I’m already using most of the replacements in the rest of my shade and semi-shade; that’s why I still plant impatiens. It provides just the light relief needed in a front garden full of ground covers, hackonechloa, hellebore, hosta, polygonatum, tiarella, and other shade stand-bys. In small doses, it works like nothing else.

Previous articleA Passion for Turfgrass, and other Matters of Taste
Next articleGrafted Tomatoes! A Million of Them!
Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Nice to hear from you again Elizabeth!

    I’d love to know what all else you plant that blooms in your summer-long dry shade. I don’t live in your area, but I have a few spots just like that, which I’ve struggled to find good blooming plants for.

  2. I start my own from seed each year, this year two types…They do brighten up my dismal corner, hopefully draw the eye away from the neighbor’s messy back corner behind me….

  3. So far I’m resisting.Have bought a number of begonias–non-stop and the million kisses.We’ll see–I’ll probably cave if it looks like our area is not getting slammed!

  4. Corydalis lutea (yellow) and Corydalis ochroleuca (white) are perennials here in zone 7b that flower in shade from April to Frost. Another floriferous shade bloomer here is wild pink Bleeding Heart, Dicentra eximia (or is it formosa). And a fourth long blooming perennial to try instead of Impatiens is Tinatia pringleii which has small blue violet flowers from June until Frost in Philadelphia. And for adding some tall blooming fillers, try the self-seeding Impatiens balfourii which has magenta pink & white flowers and doesn’t seem susceptible to the common Impatiens fungus.

Comments are closed.