Gardening at Dunhaven Place and Across the States  

Posted by Heidi in

Impatiens planted four weeks ago . .


I love flowers. I mean, truly, madly, deeply, love them. I love them so much, I actually assign them human emotions. Plants that are doing well are happy, as in “Oh, look at how happy the honeysuckle is today!” Ones that are doing very well are “ecstatic” and ones that have died are left far to long with the hope they, like errant children, will come back. As for bulbs, I don’t plant them, I bury them. I love having flowers in my yard, adore having them in my home, especially in my d├ęcor where they can be immortalized in fabrics and china (they are much more cooperative that way and you don’t have to add water). I love the idea of having cut flowers in the house but hate to ravage my plants. However, when the heat out here in the dry San Francisco East Bay gets to be in the upper 90’s (and up and up) the roses go from bud to full-blown blowzy in a matter of hours. That’s when it’s off with their heads and into the house so I can enjoy them in their captivity.


. . . with hopes they will eventually spill over and soften the stone edging
I have been chopping roses and burying bulbs in the east bay for about 8 years and have learned a lot (okay, a little) about this particular climate. I have also gardened in the SF south bay, the Denver metro area and San Diego and have been tres amazed at how different gardening is in these various locations. For example, in San Diego, impatiens are a perennial! Surely this is not news to the San Diegans. Neither is the fact that impatiens grow much more slowly there than in colder climates. Impatiens planted in April in SD grow only six or so inches by fall, yet, get larger and larger every year. I once ran across an impatiens plant in Balboa Park that was about three feet tall and woody, like an azalea. When we moved from SD in August of 1998, I transplated all of my impatiens to the yard of my friend, Anna. Five years later when I came back to visit, those same impatiens, large and lovely, were blooming like bizzy-lizzies should.


A double impatien--love 'em!
At the same time, in the Denver area, plants are put in the ground as late as June (as it can still frost or snow well into May) and ZIP up to mammoth proportions in a matter of weeks. The growing season is very short, something the plants are apparently aware of as they seem to make the most of the little bit of time they have. Garden centers there are like Christmas displays--they are temporary and come and go so fast, sometimes you don’t even know what hit you. I loved Colorado but I hated that, as long as I lived there, I could never have a jacaranda tree, a hydrangea bush or a star jasmine vine, which is sold there as a very small, expensive annual. At the same time, spring is glorious and compact, everything happening at once. Flowers grown from bulbs are incredible and the landscape looks just as it should—daffodils and tulips unfolding under the blooming dogwood.



My star jasmine vine is blooming!
In comparison, impatiens in the SF bay area go from six-packs to large, lovely mounds about 1.5 to two feet high long before the end of summer. If it is a mild fall, they can grow to be three feet tall or more before the frost kills them. This was the case in my very first garden in the south back. I was able to enjoy my tall lovely impatiens from my kitchen window into December. They are a glorious plant and my favorite annual of all time.

(I had intended this post to be about geraniums but the impatiens just barged right in and took over)



Impatiens need some shade but they like morning or filtered sun

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 10, 2008 at Saturday, May 10, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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